Judge Takes Five Minutes to Rule on 12-Year Wynn Dealer Tips Battle

Posted on: December 18, 2018, 10:26h. 

Last updated on: December 18, 2018, 10:26h.

Hundreds of Wynn Las Vegas dealers trying to claw back millions of dollars in tips they believe they were unlawfully denied by their employer were dealt a lousy hand by US District Judge Robert Jones on Monday when he threw out their lawsuit in five minutes.

Wynn dealers
Dealers at the Wynn Las Vegas believe they have been shortchanged and have been fighting for 12 years for their lost tips, but the case was dismissed on Monday by the same judge that tossed it four years ago. (Image: Wynn Resorts)

The case relates to the decision by Steve Wynn in 2006 give supervisors such as pit bosses a share of the tip pool traditionally reserved for dealers, rather than offer them a pay raise. The dealers sued Wynn Resorts and lost, but they sued again when the Obama administration passed a law in 2011 making tip-pooling illegal.

They believe they are collectively due around $50 million.

With Monday’s ruling, the dealers’ 12-year quest to be reunited with their lost tokes has come full circle — the very same judge tossed out the case in 2014. The plaintiffs appealed and won the case later that year.

Endless Litigation

But Wynn went to the US Supreme Court. While SCOTUS declined to hear the case earlier this year, it kicked it back to district court because the Trump administration had just passed a law rescinding the 2011 rules and the court felt this would have some bearing on the matter.

Wynn Resorts agreed, arguing the change in the law “rendered the regulation, upon which the dealers base [their] argument, invalid,” according to company spokesman Michael Weaver in an official statement.

But it may not be so cut and dried. While the new law legalized tip-pooling for companies that pay employees the full minimum wage, it prohibits the sharing of tips with supervisors.

Appeal in the Cards

Josephine Tang, one of eight dealers present in court Monday, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was disappointed that the judge didn’t seem to be interested in the arguments.

We are very disappointed, but we are not surprised by today’s decision. Wynn has a lot of influence in this town,” she said.

The dealers will appeal again but they may not get a ruling for three years, and so the case drags on. Ironically, in October Wynn Resorts reversed its policy so that pit bosses are no longer part of the tip-sharing pool.

What the New Law Says, and Does it Endanger Dealer’s Tips?

The law passed by Congress in October rolls back the 2011 prohibition of tip-pooling, however, it 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.

Theoretically, this means that casinos could share dealers’ tips with other non-tipped workers, although not pit-bosses and other supervisors. But this is unlikely to happen – especially in Nevada where casino workers have largely unionized since 2006 and usually have rights to their tips inserted into their employment contracts.