Suit: Grand Sierra Resort owes millions
June 16, 2014
RENO — A lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages on behalf of thousands of employees at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno claims its parent company intentionally deprived workers of wages and overtime they were entitled to by repeatedly requiring them to complete assigned chores off the clock.
U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks granted class-action status last week to the lawsuit a Reno-based law firm filed last year on behalf of between 2,000 and 4,800 employees who worked at Grand Sierra in Reno during the past two years.
The lawsuit estimates the workers were denied compensation they were entitled to an average of one hour for every day they worked in violation of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act and the Nevada Constitution, which the plaintiffs' lawyers estimate could total as much as $50 million in lost wages.
"GSR wilfully deprived employees of pay for time they spent engaging in work related activities without compensation pre and post shift, such as retrieving keys, radios, cash, completing paperwork, and attending mandatory training sessions and pre-shift meetings," Reno lawyer Joshua Buck wrote in court documents.
"This was achieved by either rounding hours so that employees who were technically 'on the clock' did not receive pay for all their recorded hours worked or by having employees perform work without being logged in to the timekeeping system," the lawsuit said.,
If workers either refused to do the work or subsequently filed for the overtime, they were "written up" with a disciplinary note, the lawsuit said. If they received too many citations, they would be terminated.
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"Employees were told to simply clock out and then return to work to continue working off the clock," the lawsuit said. "Defendant's unlawful conduct has been widespread, repeated and willful."
Co-counsel Leah L. Jones said they were in process of contacting 4,748 current and past employees to notify them of their opportunity to join the class-action suit, which names as defendants HG Staffing LLC and MEI-GSR Holdings LLC, doing business collectively as Grand Sierra Resort.
Mike Draper, a spokesman for the resort, said Friday the company doesn't typically respond publicly to ongoing litigation but that he was trying to obtain comment from corporate officials.
In addition to not compensating employees for work they did, the lawsuit said workers were subjected to "shift jamming" by being forced to return to work sooner than 16 hours from when they last worked, "whether it be their normal job duties or a special event, or mandatory trainings or classes."
They also were required illegally to cover the cost of cash shortages and credit-card reversals, the lawsuit said.
The Reno lawyers filed a similar lawsuit last year against the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
"What we're learning with these off-the-clock cases is that employers are trying to nickel and dime employees to get them to do a little extra on the front and back end," Buck said in August. "In reality, it saves the company a lot of money."