Culinary Union names MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment in lawsuit

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s largest union filed a lawsuit Monday against major two Las Vegas Strip casino properties for failing to protect workers against COVID-19.

The Culinary Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Local 165 claim the properties have failed to “properly warn workers, disinfect and quarantine when a worker or their co-worker tests positive for COVID-19.”

“This lawsuit alleges that The Signature at MGM Grand (MGM Resorts International), Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio (MGM Resorts International), and Guy Fieri at Harrah’s (Caesars Entertainment Corporation) is the just the beginning of the Culinary Union’s legal efforts to make sure workers are fully protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “The Culinary Union will continue to collect worker statements and evidence regarding unsafe working conditions throughout the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas, and we will support the courageous workers who have come forward to share their experiences”

Some union members and the daughter of a Caesars Palace employee who recently died due to COVID-19 spoke at the news conference.

Irma Fernandez, the daughter of Adolfo Fernandez, who worked as a utility porter, is not part of the culinary lawsuit, said her father expressed his concerns about catching COVID-19 after returning to work.

“My father would constantly tell me every day, I’m going to get sick. I just know it. The company is not keeping us safe,” Fernandez said.

Irma Fernandez’s father died of COVID-19. He was an employee of Caesar’s Palace.

Three union members also discussed their concerns during the news conference.

Eric Weininger, a cook at Guy Fieri for 6 years, said he came into contact with another worker who tested positive and was concerned by how management handled the situation.

“As soon as they found out about it, it seemed like a nonchalant act, everybody was blasé about it,” he said. “I’m sharing my story today because I have a son with autism and asthma and I live with my grandmother in-law who I take care of. I’m concerned of bringing it home to my family.”

Sixto Zermeno, a bellman at The Signature at the MGM Grand for 10 years, said he was never offered to take a test prior to returning to work. After three days on the job, he came down with symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19. He said he notified corporate and sent the test results.

Sixto Zermeno, a bellman at The Signature at the MGM Grand, tested positive after returning to work.

“The co-workers I worked with continued to work. They weren’t sent to get tested after they knew I was positive,” he said.

The union is demanding the following of casinos:

  • Daily cleaning of guest rooms
  • Enforce mandatory testing of all employees for COVID-19 before returning to work and regular testing thereafter
  • Provide adequate COVID-19 personal protective equipment for employees
  • Enforce social distancing and other prevention measures

The union said it is pleased most major gaming companies are posting a COVID-19 safety plan on a public-facing website but would like all properties to do the same.

Argüello-Kline said 19 union workers or family members have died since the pandemic was first reported in Clark County in March.

“Now we have 19, how many more are we going to have?”

She said the union has been fighting to have hotel and casino guests wear masks prior to Gov. Steve Sisolak announcing a directive that face masks must be worn in public areas.

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