Dividing dealers’ tips only among dealers was an industry standard until Wynn Las Vegas changed its policy to include table-game supervisors, a Wynn dealer testified Tuesday before the state labor commissioner.
The dealer, Josephine Tang, who was a dealer at the Luxor, the former Aladdin, and the Gold Coast before joining Wynn in April 2005, was unable to say definitively during testimony how much her pay has declined since the new policy widening the tip pool to include floor supervisors, called casino service team leads, was implemented nearly three years ago.
The administrative hearing before Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek that resumed Tuesday is a continuation of arguments that began in early July on wage claims challenging the tip-pooling policy. Dealers believe the policy breaks state labor law.
Wynn Las Vegas dealers are asking Tanchek to find the resort’s tip-pooling policy illegal under state law and award $35 million in back pay and penalties to nearly 500 dealers.
Attorneys for Wynn maintain the policy follows state law by sharing the dealers’ tips with other front-line employees, similar to the relationship between busboys, bartenders and waiters in a restaurant.
Tang is among a group of dealers who filed wage claims with the labor commissioner in the months following the Sept. 1, 2006, implementation of the Wynn tip-pooling policy.
Tang spent about an hour answering questions from Tanchek, attorneys from the Wynn and the dealers’ attorneys. Daniel Baldonado, a dealer and outspoken opponent of the policy, was also scheduled to testify Tuesday.
Tanchek plans to hear arguments through Friday at the Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave. The commissioner said Tuesday that if all the testimony is not completed by then, another hearing will have to be scheduled.
If testimony is completed this week, Tanchek said he expects to issue a ruling by the end of October. Any ruling will likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Baldonado and Tang are also members of a negotiating committee for Las Vegas Dealers Local 721 trying to work and contract with the union.
There have been 37 negotiating sessions since May 2007, when dealers voted by nearly a 3-to-1 margin in favor of representation from the union.
Tang and Baldonado are also plaintiffs in a new lawsuit filed July 9 in U.S. District Court of Nevada in Las Vegas claiming the tip sharing policy violates federal labor laws.
A motion to dismiss was filed Aug. 8 by the resort’s attorneys. No hearing dates have been set.
The dealers are represented by much of the legal team that has represented them through the state Supreme Court case.
Wynn Las Vegas, however, hired Washington, D.C.-based Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Eugene Scalia formerly was appointed by President George W. Bush the Solicitor of the Department of Labor in 2002. He is a partner in the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which represented Bush in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Florida recount case in 2000.
Eugene Scalia wasn’t involved in that case.
Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at email@example.com or 702-477-3893.