Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 | 5:33 p.m.
A National Labor Relations Board judge has ordered Wynn Las Vegas to reinstate a dealer who complained she was fired for union activity that was protected by federal law.
Administrative Law Judge James Kennedy issued the ruling this week in favor of former dealer Ronda Larson.
The ruling said Larson, a Transport Workers Union steward, is also entitled to back pay because her suspension in September 2009 followed by her firing involved unfair labor practices.
Larson was well known to management as a union leader and opponent of the Wynn policy of requiring dealers to share tips with managers.
Records indicate Wynn management said Larson was legitimately fired for being rude to customers and insubordination.
Specific issues cited in her firing included an incident involving her suggesting to a supervisor her table needed a fill of $5 red chips.
"He (the supervisor) did not agree and her response was regarded as defiant and insubordinate," the NLRB ruling said.
The second incident involved comments Larson allegedly made to customers during a conversation about smoking by gamblers at casino table games.
These players were later heard "griping" about Larson and there were allegations she was rude, although there was also evidence indicating the players were disgruntled because they had lost money at her table.
Casino officials then convinced some of these customers to sign complaint cards about Larson.
Customer Naishat Mehta "said that in retrospect he did not believe what he had perceived Larson to have done amounted to a firing offense. Even at the time it was happening, he regarded the casino's urgency (to have him sign a complaint) with suspicion, especially (Wynn Las Vegas') offer of free desserts, later negotiated to free nightclub passes, in exchange for guest comment cards regarding Larson's conduct," Kennedy wrote.
This effort by the casino to seek out these customers and get them to sign complaint cards backs up assertions the casino was hunting for a reason to fire Larson, Kennedy wrote.
"Larson was doing what she had been instructed to do, trying to get along with the players. She was being playful and amusing, even going along with their complaints about smoking," Kennedy wrote in his ruling. "All agreed that smoking was bad; she simply pointed out that it was bad in another sense -- workers were heavily exposed to second-hand smoke."
Kennedy, in his decision, also ordered Wynn Las Vegas to "make whole" a second union steward, David Sackin, who had been suspended and disciplined. The judge found the discipline against Sackin was motivated by his union activities.
A spokeswoman on Thursday said Wynn Las Vegas had no comment on the matter.