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MGM Resorts to mandate COVID vaccination for new hires, salaried workers

MGM Resorts International will soon require COVID-19 vaccines for all new hires and current salaried employees across the U.S.

Starting Aug. 30, all new hires at MGM Resorts properties in the U.S. will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against the virus, MGM President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a letter to employees Monday. Salaried employees will be required to show proof by Oct. 15. The policy affects those employees who do not exclusively work from home.

The new policy marks a ramping up of COVID-19 vaccine requirements by one of the state’s largest employers as the delta variant continues to surge throughout Southern Nevada. The company in July implemented a policy to require all of its Las Vegas employees to show proof of vaccine or pay for regular COVID-19 tests.

’Determined to do our part’

“I know that for some of you this may be an unwelcome development — a consideration that we did not take lightly when making this decision,” Hornbuckle wrote in the letter. “However, as one of the largest and most trusted operators and employers in our industry, MGM Resorts is determined to do our part to curb the spread of the virus and help counter alarming trends in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Vaccination is the most effective tool in doing so.”

Hornbuckle added that he has spoken to family members of employees who have died from the virus, saying he has “seen firsthand the devastation it can cause.”

“We’ve all seen the impact this pandemic has had on our community, economy and industry. I firmly believe we must do all that we can to bring this public health emergency to an end,” he said.

MGM has more than 6,000 salaried employees nationwide, company spokesman Brian Ahern said in a statement.

Exploring possible additional efforts

MGM’s new policy does not affect currently employed hourly workers, but the company said it is looking at ways to expand its new vaccine requirement.

“Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. We’re continuing to explore a variety of ways to do that, including expanding vaccination requirements among our workforce. This is an incredibly complex situation and we’re examining how expanded policies would potentially work and be implemented,” Ahern said.

Ruben Garcia, a professor of law at UNLV’s Boyd Law School and co-director of the university’s Workplace Law Program, said that MGM is on solid legal ground when it comes to mandating it among non-unionized employees given that Nevada has no law that prohibits such a requirement.

“As long as they don’t violate a statute, they can ask you to do a lot of things. If you don’t like it, it’s your prerogative to find another job,” Garcia said.

It’s a different story for union employees, Garcia said, such as the 24,000 members of Culinary Local 226 who work at MGM properties in Las Vegas. With a contract in place, employers must bargain with the union before implementing any mandated changes, he said.

Bethany Khan, spokeswoman for the culinary union, said in a statement that the union “will remain vigilant to ensure workers are protected at work and urge hospitality employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as they are safe, proven, and effective.”

MGM regularly holds pop-up vaccine clinics at all of its Strip properties, with doses available to employees, their families, entertainers and employees of third-party vendors.

MGM operates 10 resort properties on the Strip, including MGM Grand, Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, New York-New York and Park MGM.

Hornbuckle Vaccine letter 8.16 by Colton Lochhead on Scribd

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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