Aria Sued by Former Slots Worker for $638,000 Over ‘Illegal’ Tip Pooling
Posted on: March 6, 2020, 03:55h.
Last updated on: March 6, 2020, 09:36h.
Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas is facing a lawsuit from a former employee who claims the casino broke federal law by pooling tips that were distributed to slots supervisors and managers, as well as staff that looked after customers on the casino floor.
Lisa Daniels, a former slot-guest service representative, now retired and living in Florida, says Aria violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by wrongly including supervisors in the tips pool.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the US District Court of Nevada, the plaintiff argues that MGM Resorts owes her and 44 of her colleagues $14,519.02 each for tips earned between March and December 2018.
In March of that year, FLSA was amended to explicitly prohibit tip-sharing with managers and supervisors.
The amendment states: “An employer may not keep tips received by its employees for any purposes, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips, regardless of whether or not the employer takes a tip credit.
“Any employer who violates [the relevant section] shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of the sum of any tip credit taken by the employer and all such tips unlawfully kept by the employer, and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages,” it continues.
Aria continued to share tips with managers and supervisors through the end of 2018, claims the lawsuit. It adds that just under a third of the 67 employees in the pool should not have been included at all.
Defendant knew or should have known its policies, practices, and procedures alleged herein were unlawful and that it owed employees this money, and have willfully failed to pay its employees properly,” reads the complaint.
“Defendant is a sophisticated corporate entity with in-house attorneys and retained counsel whose job it is to keep the company in compliance with the law,” it continues. “Moreover, Plaintiff notified her superiors of the 2018 Amendment to the FLSA. Nevertheless, Defendant continued to violate the law and refused to pay Plaintiff, and those similarly situated, for the improperly withheld tips.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, repayment of the “unlawfully held” tips, plus interest, liquidated damages, and legal costs.
Wynn Dealers’ Ordeal
The case echoes the longstanding legal battle between Wynn Resorts and a group of dealers dating back to 2006, which led to the 2018 amendment to FLSA.
In that case, hundreds of dealers argued Wynn Resorts owed them collectively around $50 million because, they argued, the company’s tip pooling system was illegal. The case was kicked around the appeal courts for years until it was finally thrown out in December 2018.
The judge noted that while the FLSA amendment prohibited the sharing of tips with supervisors, it legalized tip pooling for companies, like Wynn, that paid employees the full minimum wage.
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