Group calls for Steve Wynn’s name to be removed from hotel

Updated February 7, 2018 - 10:29 pm

A women’s advocacy organization called Wednesday for Steve Wynn’s name to be removed from his hotel.

“If the Wynn Resorts company is interested in sending a signal to women and survivors that it is a safe place to work and that they are an employer that stands with women, they will not keep his name on the building,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet.

After Wynn’s resignation from Wynn Resorts Ltd. late Tuesday, the group canceled its plan to fly a banner Wednesday over the Nevada Gaming Control Board meeting in Carson City. The banner would have called for the body to revoke Wynn’s gaming license.

Chaudhary said she is glad Wynn resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed employees, but she wants more action.

The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 26 published explicit accounts of Wynn demanding sexual favors from female employees, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday published allegations that he pressured a waitress into sex about 30 years ago, allegedly telling his employee he had “never had a grandmother before” and wanted “to see how it feels,” according to a court document and interviews with multiple sources.

“These are very credible stories of decades of sexual abuse, and the Wynn brand is damaged,” Chaudhary said.

A broader conversation

Changing the name of the hotel would be a step in the right direction, she said, adding that she hopes the conversation will move beyond Wynn onto a broader conversation about workplace harassment in all sectors.

“We really need to start having a very serious conversation about not just how do we protect people on Capitol Hill, and people in Hollywood, but how do we protect the most vulnerable people in our country who can’t afford to lose their jobs and are forced to tolerate this behavior?”

A November report by the Center for American Progress found the majority of complaints, 14.23 percent, filed to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2005 and 2015 came from the accommodation and food services industry.

“Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a broader conversation of what we need to do to make sure that people who are domestic workers, restaurant workers, farm workers, are protected and allowed to speak out.”

‘Boys will be boys’

Sondra Cosgrove, co-chair of the College of Southern Nevada Women’s Alliance, said it is promising that a conversation around sexual harassment in the workplace has started at all.

Two or three decades ago, the reaction to the Wynn allegations would have been much different, she said.

“It would have been ‘boys will be boys,’” she said, and women would have been more reluctant to come forward.

“Now women are professors and attorneys and police officers and politicians,” she said. “We have power, too.”

Las Vegas always has been about “the bottom line,” Cosgrove said, and issues that might affect it are likely to be taken seriously and addressed quickly. She noted that Wynn stock prices dropped with the allegations and rebounded with Wynn’s resignation.

“I think in the past, the harassment didn’t affect the bottom line,” she said. “I think something has changed, and I think it’s because millennials are such a big force in the market.”

Cosgrove sees Las Vegas’ culture changing because of the expanding influence of millennials, who tend to not patronize companies whose actions are contrary to their own values.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter. Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.comor 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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