Former Colorado Casino Worker Forced Out of Job for Reporting Sex Attack by Customer, Lawsuit Claims

Posted on: September 11, 2019, 09:08h. 

Last updated on: September 11, 2019, 12:44h.

A wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed against the Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado, by a former female employee alleges casino management “retaliated” against her for reporting a customer for sexual assault.

Wildwood Casino
The gaming floor of the Wildwood Casino, where a customer known as “Scary Larry” waged “a campaign of unwanted touching and inappropriate advances.” (Image: Wildwood Casino)

The suit accuses Wildwood owner Great American Gaming of failing to protect its employees from sexual harassment by customers, and of turning against the plaintiff after she reported the behavior of a customer who had grabbed her crotch and assaulted other staff members.

Casino regular Lawrence Earnhart pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in March 2018 in relation to the incident, which had occurred in May of the previous year.

Scary Larry

But the lawsuit alleges Earnhart, who was known to staff as “Scary Larry,” had waged a “campaign of unwanted advances and inappropriate touching for months” before his assault on the plaintiff. The customer had allegedly harassed another employee that night and pushed his face into her cleavage.

According to court documents, Earnhart’s behavior was reported to the casino’s top brass by staff members and even some managers. No action was taken until the plaintiff called the police, after which Earnhart was finally barred from the casino.

But subsequently, the victim claims she was “singled out, isolated, unnecessarily scrutinized, blamed for systematic problems by the casino, and set up for failure, so that she would be forced out of her employment,” according to the lawsuit.

The victim is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, citing a hostile work environment, as well as retaliation and wrongful termination.

Wynn Scandal

The sexual harassment of workers in the casino sector was brought into stark focus last year following the publication of a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against the casino mogul Steve Wynn by The Wall Street Journal.

Wynn was compelled to resign as the chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts and to sell his stake in the company after it was alleged that he had for “decades” exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior towards his female employees, including a manicurist who had accused him of coercing her into sex, to whom he paid $7.5 million in hush money.

The revelation prompted the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to review state regulations to prevent sexual harassment in casinos.

During a set of hearings on the regulations last year, female casino union members told the NGCB that they were routinely subjected to sexual harassment by both customers and employers.

As a result of the review, license holders are now required to “maintain written policies and procedures addressing prevention, reporting and investigation, and response to sexual harassment in the licensee’s workplace.” NGBC has the authority to inspect policies of a license holder at its discretion.

According to a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News, 54 percent of women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.