The powerful Nevada union that represents more than 60,000 casino workers in the Las Vegas area sued several of the city’s casino operators on Monday, accusing them of failing to properly protect employees from the coronavirus pandemic.
Culinary Union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline told the Associated Press the union’s members, who include housekeepers, cooks and bartenders, “want to work, but they want to work safe.”
“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to protect these workers, these families and this community,” she added, according to the AP.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, accuses several resorts and properties of running for nearly three weeks before mandating face masks and seeks a court order forcing tighter safety measures under the federal collective bargaining statute, the news service reported. Defendants include a Harrah’s Las Vegas restaurant, the Signature Condominium towers at the MGM Grand resort and the Bellagio casino.
The lawsuit claims the defendants required their own employees to wear masks during the same period, indicating they “recognized the critical importance of mask-wearing,” but that in spite of “overwhelming evidence of the importance of mandating facial coverings by guests in public areas of casinos and hotels … defendants, along with other casinos and hotels in southern Nevada only ‘encouraged’ guests to wear face masks.”
Argüello-Kline said Monday that at least 19 union members or immediate family members have died from the virus since the outbreak began in Nevada. Union officials have long called for Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and the Clark County Commission, which has jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip, to announce stronger worker safety regulations.
Sisolak officially made facial coverings a requirement last week, saying “For Nevada to stay safe and stay open, we must make face coverings a routine part of our daily life.”
A spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which operates Harrah’s, told The Hill the company does not comment on pending litigation.
MGM Grand and Bellagio operator MGM Resorts International did not respond to requests for comment.
—Updated at 12:41 p.m.