Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 | 2:44 p.m.
The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that casinos can require that tips received by table games dealers be shared with management employees.
The court said that casinos in Las Vegas owned by Steve Wynn could change their tip policy to benefit employees other than the dealers receiving the gratuity.
The court, in an opinion Thursday authored by Justice Michael Douglas, said the law “prohibits an employer from taking and keeping his or her employees’ tips. But the statute does not prohibit a tip policy that splits the tips among the employees.”
The court sent the case back to District Judge Kenneth Cory to consider whether this shift in tip income violates the law that says compensation cannot be lowered if there is a collective bargaining agreement.
In September 2006, Wynn changed the tip policy at his casinos to require his dealers to share the money with casino service team leaders and box persons and managers.
The dealers objected, saying the casino floor managers were underpaid and Wynn was just trying to boost their salaries. The brief by the employees to the court said this would mean a $5,000-a-year salary increase for supervisors.
Dealers Daniel Baldonado, Joseph Cesarz and Quyngoc Tang filed an objection with the state labor commissioner that the dealers should be able to keep the money. The commissioner rejected their petition.
The dealers then filed suit in Clark County District Court. After Cory ruled in favor of the dealers, Wynn appealed to the state Supreme Court.
A number of groups on both sides of the issue filed “Friend of the Court” briefs. The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Churches of Southern Nevada and Interfaith Worker Justice filed in favor of the dealers. The Nevada Resort Association and the Nevada Restaurant Association supported Wynn.
In the appeal, the dealers argued tips are a direct benefit to the workers and could not be shared with others, but the court said Wynn distributed the tips among other employees and did not keep any for himself, which would be against the law.
The dealers also sought to designate the case as a class action suit, but the labor commissioner’s office rejected this on the grounds that other persons were not named. Cory granted class action certification, but the Supreme Court said Cory should have deferred to the labor commissioner’s decision.