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March 24, 2017

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Wynn nightclub workers say management committed to tip-sharing

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Wynn Las Vegas

XS at the Encore.

When it comes to Wynn Las Vegas nightclub workers having to share tips with managers, employees say the casino’s attitude about the arrangement is that it’s never going to change.

That’s the latest charge in the federal lawsuit filed in October by workers at Wynn’s Tryst and XS nightclubs.

The Culinary Union workers, seeking class-action status in the lawsuit, charged in the suit that the mandatory tip-distribution policy violated the Wynn labor agreement, demanded that it be canceled and that gratuities allegedly misappropriated by managers be returned to the bartenders and cocktail servers.

Attorneys for Wynn responded to the lawsuit in December, asking the court to throw the suit out on a motion for summary judgment — and without attorneys for the workers having a chance to collect evidence to back up their claims.

A dismissal on summary judgment is appropriate because the collective bargaining agreement requires workers to take such disputes to arbitration prior to filing lawsuits, Wynn’s attorneys argued.

They also noted that in June, a union business representative submitted a grievance about the tip-sharing policy and that after discussions between union representatives and management, a gratuity committee was formed.

As of Dec. 22, the tip committee had met. But it had not brought its gratuity ideas to Wynn management, and the union had not filed a request for arbitration, Wynn’s attorneys said in their court filing.

“The undisputed material facts clearly establish that plaintiffs have failed to exhaust the gratuities and grievance procedures set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between Wynn and the union,” Wynn attorneys wrote in their filing.

Attorneys for the workers, however, argued in a filing last week that arbitration provisions in the labor agreement are not mandatory and that Wynn has repudiated the grievance process of the collective bargaining agreement with creation of the “sham” tip committee.

The workers’ attorneys want the lawsuit to proceed, initially with an order allowing them to conduct discovery so they can gather evidence.

One of the workers, Daniel Gerstel, said in a court declaration that as a union shop steward, he held a series of meetings with other employees to discuss the tip policy and that Cy Waits, then managing partner of the nightclubs, threatened to fire him for “spreading poison and negativity” at work by questioning the system.

Cy Waits was later “separated” from Wynn Las Vegas after he and his girlfriend Paris Hilton were arrested in August outside of the resort.

Jesse Waits, another managing partner and Cy Waits’ twin brother, held a meeting in September with managers and staff and told them he had created the tip-sharing policy when he took over operations of Tryst and that anyone who disagreed with the policy would “just have to deal with it” and it was not going to change, the workers’ attorneys said in the filing.

Maurice Wooden, chief operating officer at Wynn, rejected the grievance and said at another meeting that management would always receive tips, the attorneys wrote in their filing.

At one point, Wooden allegedly said good service should be the employees’ only concern.

The workers’ attorneys said in their filing that the tip committee referenced by the Wynn attorneys has no power to determine a formula to allocate tips and had been “told on numerous occasions that nothing will change and that management will continue to get tips, based on some formula of which the tip committee has no knowledge.”

“The committee has been largely a sham and a delaying technique by management,” the attorneys wrote.

It’s unclear when the judge assigned to the case, which has 37 nightclub worker plaintiffs, will rule on Wynn’s motion that the lawsuit be dismissed on a summary judgment ruling.

Attorneys for the Waits brothers and certain executives, who along with Wynn Las Vegas are being sued by the workers, filed a separate motion supporting Wynn’s motion that the case be dismissed on summary judgment.

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