Brenna Schrader, a massage therapist at Wynn Las Vegas, filed a class action lawsuit this week against her employer and its former CEO Steve Wynn. The suit alleges that executives at the gaming company foster an environment of hostility and make it difficult for female employees to defend themselves against sexual harassment.
Former Wynn Las Vegas President Maurice Wooden is also named as a defendant in the complaint. He left that role in December 2018, 10 months after Wynn submitted his resignation from the company he founded. The gaming scion, widely viewed in the industry as a godfather and visionary that played a pivotal role in establishing modern Las Vegas, was forced to leave the company after a Wall Street Journal report detailed various acts of sexual misconduct.
Perhaps the most damning account was that of a former manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas, who alleged Wynn forced her to have sex with him. He would later pay her $7.5 million and speculation swirled that payment was actually related to a paternity suit.
Wynn was accused of sexual misconduct and mistreating female subordinates, but he has not been found guilty in a criminal court.
Schrader’s suit contends that Wynn engaged in over a decade of sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct while serving as CEO, and that the company covered up his misdeeds during that time.
Defendants’ decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse allegations created a culture where employees were afraid to pursue complaints, believed that speaking up would be pointless and result in their inability to work anywhere in Nevada again,” according to Schrader’s court documents, which were obtained by Casino.org.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Schrader has been employed at Wynn Las Vegas since June 2010 and remains working there.
A cornerstone of Schrader’s complaint is that Wynn Resorts acted in secrecy to obfuscate the founder’s mistreatment of women. The court documents allege that was done intentionally, with the objective of misleading gaming regulators and dissuading female staffers from speaking up.
“These efforts at secrecy made it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for gaming regulators, government officials, Defendants’ supervisors, managers, and human resources personnel to detect sexual misconduct and to prevent said misconduct,” according to the suit. “These efforts at secrecy also created an environment sexually hostile to females that made them feel powerless, without a voice,and incapable of complaining to management, administrative bodies or seeking employment elsewhere in Nevada.”
Earlier this year, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) levied a $20 million fine, its largest ever, against Wynn Resorts, citing “a failure of corporate culture to govern itself.” In May, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) hit the company with $35.5 million in penalties, including $500,000 aimed at current CEO Matt Maddox, for what the commission deemed “repeated systemic failures and pervasive culture of non-disclosure.”
Those fines were paid so Wynn Resorts could proceed with opening the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass.
More Plaintiffs Coming?
A class action lawsuit can be brought by an individual acting on behalf of a larger group. But Scharder’s attorney, Burke Huber of the Richard Harris Personal Injury Law Firm in Las Vegas, said it’s possible other members join the class.
“At the moment Ms. Schrader is the only class representative,” said Huber in remarks emailed to Casino.org. “This obviously could change. Many female victims are terrified to speak up and fear retribution.”
Citing incidents ranging from 2005 through 2014, Schrader’s suit contends that there are multiple examples of Wynn executives looking the other way “after obtaining allegations of sexual misconduct against Defendant (Steve) Wynn.”
“Ms. Schrader is a very brave and courageous person, and she is willing to represent a class that has been largely ignored and mistreated,” said Huber.
In class action lawsuits, monetary awards are determined, in part, by the size of the class, among other factors. Huber declined to estimate what compensation for plaintiffs in Schrader’s class action could be, aside from saying the figure may be “astronomical.”
Steve Wynn has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, while his former company has a market capitalization of $11.94 billion.