Hospitality workers want ‘Right to Return’; bill would make resorts offer laid off employees their former jobs

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As more lights come back on across Nevada and on the Las Vegas Strip, laid off hospitality workers are itching to get back to work.

A piece of legislation being discussed at the Nevada State Legislature, known as the “Right to Return” bill, would guarantee workers the chance to get their jobs back. And while everyone wants to see more Nevadans employed as we begin to come out on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, not everyone thinks the bill is the best path forward.

“We don’t have jobs, we don’t have anything,” said Norma Flores, a laid off hospitality worker.

For two decades, Flores worked as a server at a local casino-resort in Southern Nevada. She was laid off one year ago, as COVID-19 concerns shut down Las Vegas. And ever since then, it has been tough to make ends meet.

Norma Flores

“With the pandemic, no more tips, nothing, and it’s hard with the unemployment, they take time to give it to me,” Flores said.

As Nevada reopens, Flores wants to get back to work — and she hopes Senate Bill 386 can help. The “Right to Return” bill would make casinos, hotels, and tourism-related industries offer laid off worker their former jobs, or similar positions, before considering hiring other potential employees. But some do not agree with the legislation.

“It’s inappropriate,” said Republican State Senator Keith Pickard, who represents Clark County (District 20).

Republican State Senator Keith Pickard — Clark County (District 20)

Sen. Pickard says employees could falsely accuse resorts of not offering them jobs, and that could potentially lead to damaging lawsuits.

“We’re opening the door to litigation and it makes it very difficult for an employer to prove they didn’t do this,” Sen. Pickard said.

Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who represents Clark County (District 6), introduced Senate Bill 386. She acknowledges companies need protections. She says she and other lawmakers are working on fine-tuning the details of the bill.

Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro — Clark County (District 6)

“For bad actors who want to take advantage of that process, we obviously want to make sure there’s some enforcement mechanisms,” Sen. Cannizzaro said.

Some casino companies also oppose the bill, saying it would result in restrictive requirements. But the powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has a message for employers.

“They have to realize the best thing for this community to move forward, is giving the right person their job back,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

Flores hopes everyone will get on board.

“We deserve to come back to work,” Flores said.

Nevada lawmakers are working through the details of the bill right now. Next on the agenda is likely another committee hearing before any votes can take place. Stay with 8 News Now as we continue our coverage of the legislative session.

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