Harrah’s Casino New Orleans May Not Face Many Damages For Barring Female, Law Professor Says

Posted on: October 25, 2021, 04:50h. 

Last updated on: October 25, 2021, 12:36h.

A female lieutenant in the US Army who was refused entry into Harrah’s New Orleans earlier this month appears likely to follow through with her threatened discrimination lawsuit. But a law professor cautions she may not recover much in damages if the case goes to trial.

Harrison first provided the staff a driver’s license
Deja Harrison, at right, shows two forms of ID to a Harrah’s New Orleans screener. Harrah’s employee refused to let her enter the casino floor. (Image: Deja Harrison)

On Oct. 5, Deja Harrison, 23, was told by casino staff she could not enter the gaming property. A Harrah’s employee disputed her ID cards, including a military ID. Harrison saw the incident as evidence that the staff assumed that a Black woman of her age could not achieve a higher rank. She has retained an attorney.

The casino staff made a questionable judgment call here, Robert Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law who is not involved in the case, said. Jarvis says Harrison may not see a monetary victory in court, however.

While Harrison is unlikely to recover much in the way of monetary damages, I’m assuming — if she goes through with the suit — that she wants to make a point — that people, and particularly men, should not make assumptions about what young Black women can or cannot achieve,” Jarvis told Casino.org.

“I think the reasonable thing to have done here was to let her in,” Jarvis added.

Consistent with Policy, But Questionable Decision

At Harrah’s, Harrison first provided the staff with a driver’s license. It could not be validated through a scanner so Harrison then produced the military ID. The Harrah’s employee rejected it allegedly because the screener felt that someone who looked as young as Harrison could not be at the E-6 salary level and rank. She in fact is at a higher rank as a second lieutenant.

This was a judgment call and a poor one,” Jarvis said. “There was no reason, based on the card, to think that Harrison was not the person in the card and was too young to enter the casino.”

The next move by the Harrah’s employee, saying he was calling the New Orleans Police Department, raised other issues.

“It appears that Harrah’s never placed the call and let Harrison cool her heels for two hours until she finally gave up and left,” Jarvis said. Telling Harrison it was calling the police then not doing so and not telling Harrison “is clearly unacceptable,” Jarvis added.

He also noted that Harrah’s has a policy to card those visitors who appear to be under 30. Harrison is 23.

“Thus, carding her was consistent with Harrah’s policy,” Jarvis said.

Ceasars Issues Statement

In a statement to Casino.org, Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of Harrah’s New Orleans, has said the information on the military ID card did not match the information Harrison told security officers.

As a result, in compliance with applicable gaming regulations, our security officers did not permit Ms. Harrison to enter the casino,” the statement read.

“Caesars Entertainment has an unwavering commitment to diversity and our military. We are saddened by this situation and will continue to evaluate our processes,” the statement continued.

Screening Advice to Casinos

Generally, Jarvis said that the checking of IDs at a casino, bar, nightclub, or other establishment is “tricky.”

“Some young people look old, while some old people look young.  Thus, there’s a lot of judgment that goes into who one admits and who one turns away.”

In general, screeners should be familiar with different IDs and have “a lot of patience, common sense, and good judgment,” Jarvis recommends.

In Louisiana, allowing someone under age 21 could result in a fine of not more than five hundred dollars and the person may be imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.