A lawsuit filed this week by 76 former employees alleges that Station Casino violated Nevada’s Right to Return Law. The law, also called SB386, was signed into law last June in an attempt to ensure that casino, hospitality, stadium, and other tourism-related workers would be able to return to the positions they held before the pandemic. The bill was intended to protect the overwhelming majority of hospitality workers that lost jobs during the pandemic.
Station Casinos is Nevada’s third-largest employer, operating nine casinos in Vegas including Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, and Palace Station, which plays host to the beloved 24-hour Oyster Bar.
The company is being accused of failing to comply with SB386, which requires that employer offer former employees their previous jobs, or give them the opportunity to take a similar job when possible. According to the lawsuit, Station Casino held job fairs to fill open jobs rather than first offering them to former employees, per the Right to Return law.
The Nevada Culinary Workers’ Union held a press conference on Tuesday, March 29, in support of the 76 plaintiffs on the lawsuit, even though they are non-union workers not represented by the union. As unionization fights play out in hospitality businesses nationally, the Culinary Union has a unique position as one of the most powerful political forces in the state. The Right to Return law, which the Culinary Union pushed to pass in 2021, is an example of the kinds of laws that unions are able to advocate for, providing meaningful protection for workers, unionized or not.
The plaintiffs are seeking reinstatement, future and back pay, civil penalties, and compensatory damages from Station Casinos. According the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint in April accusing Red Rock Resorts and the connected companies of trying to erode unions. According to the complaint, employees were terminated and rehired “in a selective and discriminatory manner that was calculated to dilute union support among their employees.”
“We are confident that we have complied with SB386, despite it being as misguided, counterproductive, and useless as it has been,” said a Station Casino spokesperson in a comment shared via email. “At this point, we do not have any information from these individuals alleging our violations (as required by SB386). At first glance, however, it appears that a number of them may have worked in our buffets, which have not reopened, or are further down the seniority list than other team members eligible for rehire, or both.”