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Caesars begins layoffs during coronavirus crisis

Documentation obtained by the Review-Journal shows Caesars Entertainment Corp. has begun laying off employees amid reduced travel demand from the coronavirus pandemic “due to unforeseeable, unexpected and sudden reduced business levels as a result of COVID-19.”

A Planet Hollywood employee, who was granted anonymity to protect the worker’s ability to possibly return to the job, said they received a call from a manager Sunday afternoon saying their entire department would be laid off. The worker subsequently received documentation saying their employment status would change from full-time to laid off.

According documents shared by the employee, Caesars was “unable to make a determination as to whether the layoff will be temporary or permanent.”

The document said it was filed in accordance with the federal Worker Adjustment Restraining Notification, and was shared with less than 60 days notice because the layoff is due to an “unforeseeable business circumstance.”

The document said Caesars would ensure employees are “paid all earned wages and agreed upon benefits” at the time of their termination.

The employee said they were worried about providing for their family; while they could get access to their 401(k), the worker said it just took a huge hit from the stock market volatility.

“I’ve been with the company for (many) years, and like a light switch, I’m out,” they said. “I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills now. … I need that job and the benefits.”

When asked about the document’s legitimacy on Sunday, Caesars spokesperson Richard Broome said he was “not able to comment at this time.”

Caesars would be the second Strip operator to announce layoffs of full-time employees. MGM Resorts International began layoffs Friday.

A letter sent Friday evening to the company’s workforce from MGM President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Hornbuckle, obtained by the Review-Journal, said about 150 food and beverage outlets would be closed Monday, with more closing on a rolling basis.

Layoffs have begun “in areas most immediately impacted by the slowdown in demand,” the letter said.

This comes after a Luxor employee and a Wet Republic pool worker at the MGM Grand have tested positive for the virus.

The layoffs come as other Strip operators make major operational changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, both MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd. announced plans to temporarily shut down their Las Vegas properties. All full-time Wynn Las Vegas and Encore employees are set to continue to be paid during the shutdown.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Sunday it is up to each casino operator to choose whether they will remain open or close, saying “gaming is the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy” and “I strongly support any decision our properties make.” He also urged companies that plan to close to take care of their employees.

Broome said Sunday Caesars has no plans to temporarily halt operations in Las Vegas. Spokespeople for Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Boyd Gaming Corp. told the Review-Journal they have no plans to close their Nevada casinos at this time. A spokesman for Red Rock Resorts did not respond to requests for comment.

Even though there are still some Las Vegas casinos operating, the Planet Hollywood worker is concerned about job prospects.

“With everyone shutting down completely … there are no other jobs,” said the Planet Hollywood employee. “I’ll ask for work, I’ll try to do something. If they start building hospitals, I’ll do that. I’ll do whatever it takes to put food on the table.”

According to a statement from Culinary Union Local 226 spokeswoman Bethany Khan, the union has new proposals on the table for additional worker protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are about 60,000 workers in Las Vegas with union contracts, including Caesars employees.

In a Saturday statement to members, the union said it would “continue to negotiate with casino and hotel employers … to protect workers during these difficult times.”

“We are working with the employers to identify any job opportunities and make sure they are made available to laid-off workers, including available work in other classifications if needed and if worker is qualified,” the statement reads.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Position Status Change Letter Lay Off by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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