Former MGM Detroit Staffer Sues Casino Operator, Alleging Wrongful Termination, Sexual Discrimination

Posted on: June 23, 2019, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: June 22, 2019, 07:41h.

A former assistant shift manager at the MGM Grand Detroit is suing that property and its parent company, MGM Resorts International, alleging he was wrongfully fired and that he was the victim of sexual discrimination.

A former MGM Grand Detroit worker is suing that venue and MGM Resorts, claiming discrimination. (Image: Scott Legato, Getty Images)

Paul Ross, 49, of Washentaw County, Michigan, worked at MGM’s Motor City property for nearly two decades, starting as a slot supervisor and eventually working his way up to assistant shift manager, the position he held when he was let go in February.

Ross’s case against his former employer, filed in the US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, is a civil matter “seeking damages and injunctive relief against Defendants for committing acts prohibited under federal and state law,” according to the court filing.

The plaintiff believes he lost his job in part or entirely because of his age, race or sex “and for retaliation in violation” of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin,” according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Solid Employee Claims Mistreatment

Ross, who started working at MGM Grand Detroit on July 6, 1999, was, if claims in his lawsuit are accurate, an exemplary employee. In the court filing, Ross’s attorney indicates the plaintiff saw steady pay increases over his more than 19 years with MGM and “routinely received satisfactory or above employee reviews, evaluations, and received respective bonuses.”

Ross alleges his first encounter with discrimination at MGM Grand, Detroit’s largest casino by revenue, happened a decade ago when he tried to claim time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for his sick daughter who was suffering from junior rheumatoid arthritis.

The plaintiff “was unable to take the time to care for his daughter, unlike many other African American female employees who were granted FMLA leave when their children were ill,” according to the suit.

That, however, was not the end of Ross’s problems with his now former employer. In March 2015, Ross was assaulted by a rowdy male patron that the employee escorted out of the casino. Onlookers claimed that the male customer assaulted a female guest and Ross alerted MGM security to the matter.

Security asked the employee to follow the unwanted guest out of the building and when Ross arrived at the casino’s front door to update a security officer on the situation, the man punched Ross in the face. That prompted a hospital visit for Ross, resulting in eight stitches in his lip and eight missed days of work, according to the suit.

Workers’ Comp Woes

In the filing, Ross’s attorney claims his client, while off work due to the facial injury, tried multiple times to contact workers’ compensation but was unsuccessful in those efforts. Ross would not hear back from workers’ compensation officials until three months after returning to work.

When the Plaintiff finally received a notice from workers compensation it was to inform him that he would be terminated for an unauthorized leave unless he applied for LOA immediately,” according to the suit.

Here, “LOA” refers to a leave of absence. Ross was also required to provide documentation as to why he missed eight days of work. MGM’s legal department told Ross that because he went to a hospital and not a specific urgent care facility, he was not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Ross ended up losing his paid time off and was stuck with a $250 hospital bill that MGM would later pay on his behalf.

Wait, There’s More

Ross contends that even after providing requested documentation regarding the injuries that forced him to miss work, MGM “hounded” him, demanding further elaboration. The former employee’s counsel claims that when a female dealer at MGM Grand Detroit was assaulted by a customer, the company pursued litigation against that patron, underscoring Ross’s claims he was discriminated against because he is a man.

Ross contacted the property’s vice president of human resources about the harassment, but calls and emails were not returned, according to the suit.

The plaintiff also thinks he was retaliated against for his role in a 2017 attempt by table games supervisors at MGM’s Detroit venue to organize under the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union. Due to his part in that effort, Ross believes MGM management refused to allow him to take on added responsibilities.

His suit against the gaming company also details three instances in which he was passed over for promotions. In one example, Ross claims he was denied a promotion in favor of a younger, Latino female staffer. A second time he was skipped over and a higher position was awarded to a younger, African American woman. A third example details Ross missing out on a more prestigious role because the job went to another woman whose age and race are not identified in the suit.