Culinary Union Files Lawsuit Against Las Vegas Casinos for Unsafe Conditions

Casinos allegedly skirting pandemic regulations

As COVID-19 cases rise dramatically across the United States, taking proper care to be clean and safe is of the utmost importance. The Culinary Local 226 union in Las Vegas does not believe some casino properties are being responsible in the face of the health crisis and have sued several venues. The lawsuit alleges that The Signature at the MGM Grand, Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio and Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen and Bar have not properly protected their staff and arguably more damning, that their response to an employee contracting the virus has been “wholly and dangerously inadequate.”

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the lawsuit accuses the properties of completely dropping the ball when an employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19. They did not inform the other employees, observe disinfecting protocol, or quarantine those who had been in contact with the infected staffer.

Venues not acting quickly

The lawsuit says that at least three valets and bellmen have tested positive at The Signature, possibly the result of poor safety practices. There are no social distancing markings around the bell desk, there are too few valet drivers which leads to not having enough time to disinfect vehicles, and crowds are so immense that employees have to squeeze through people with no ability to distance themselves.

One Bellman, Sixto Zermeno, said that nobody at his place of employment consulted him about his illness. He has been away from work for nearly a month. The lawsuit says that The Signature “did not immediately close down the work areas” where Zermeno was and did not immediately warn the other employees.

As for Sadelle’s Café, a food runner contracted the virus, and even after he told the company, they did nothing to be sure food runners and cooks could socially distance themselves. After another person got sick a couple weeks later, the company didn’t tell employees until the next day. One employee was told it was fine to work as long as she wore a mask, even though she expressed her concern that she had been in close contact with someone who had COVID-19.

The bare minimum, if that

At Guy Fieri’s, one food runner worked June 12-14 in close contact with his colleagues and tested positive on June 18. The lawsuit claims that Harrah’s did not tell the other employees so that they could take whatever steps they deemed necessary and did not close the restaurant until June 20. And that was only “after it became clear that there were insufficient workers to run the restaurant.”

51-year old Adolfo Fernandez, a utility porter at Caesars Palace, passed away from COVID-19 on June 24. His daughter said that he expressed his concerns about safety measures to her, but kept working even while sick because he needed to earn a living.

The union’s demands, according to the Review-Journal:

….require daily cleaning of guests rooms; enforce mandatory testing of all employees for COVID-19 before returning to work and regular testing thereafter; provide adequate personal protective equipment for employees; and enforce social distancing.

Nevada has had one of the worst explosions of COVID-19 in the country in recent weeks, possibly fueled by casinos opening on June 4. Prior to that date, the most new confirmed cases of the virus in a single day was 238. Since then, in less than a month, there have been 17 days with more than 238 confirmed cases. There have not been fewer than 400 in the last week; June 27 saw more than 1,000 new cases reported in the state.

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