Wynn Las Vegas dealers will have less to cheer about this holiday season.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jones again threw out their lawsuit Monday against Wynn Las Vegas seeking lost tips totaling in the millions of dollars.
Jones took about five minutes at a hearing in downtown Las Vegas to agree with the casino operator that a new national law invalidates the dealers’ argument.
Congress in March passed a law regulating tipping that negated the 2011 Department of Labor regulation on which Wynn Las Vegas dealers based their federal lawsuit.
“Our position has always been that the 2018 change in the law rendered the regulation, upon which the dealers base argument, invalid. We are encouraged that Judge Jones appears to support our position,” company spokesman Michael Weaver said in a statement.
Joshua Buck, the lawyer for the dealers, said Jones had little interest in hearing arguments this morning.
“His mind was made up as soon as Wynn filed their motion,” Buck said following the decision.
The dealers will file an appeal within 30 days to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Monday’s decision, Buck said. That court might hear the case in 18 months and make a ruling in 2021, extending the timeline of a bitter battle that has already lasted 12 years.
“We are very disappointed, but we are not surprised by today’s decision. Wynn has a lot of influence in this town,” said Josephine Tang, one of eight dealers who attended the hearing.
The dealers still hope they will prevail in higher courts.
In 2016, the 9th Circuit overturned Jones’ initial ruling in favor of Wynn Las Vegas. He has had more decisions overturned by the appeals court than any other Nevada federal judge.
History in court
The battle between Wynn Las Vegas and its dealers goes back to a 2006 decision by then-CEO Steve Wynn to share their tips with other employees as part of a shake-up of the casino floor hierarchy and pay.
The dealers, who saw their pay cut by about 12 percent, filed suit in state court but lost.
They filed a federal case against Wynn Las Vegas after the Department of Labor issued its 2011 regulation stipulating that only employees regularly receiving tips could share in a tip pool.
Jones tossed out the dealers’ federal case in 2013 on the grounds that the Department of Labor had no authority to issue such regulations.
The 9th Circuit overturned that ruling in 2016, and Wynn Las Vegas appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the nation’s highest court decided in June that it would not hear the appeal and kicked the case back to Jones.
While the parties were waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision, Congress passed a law prohibiting managers from taking part in a tip pool. However, the law also invalidated the Department of Labor regulation.
Wynn Las Vegas lawyers argued that the dealers cannot base a case on a regulation that no longer exists. Buck rejected that notion, saying a law cannot be retroactively applied to previous years.
Wynn Las Vegas ended the practice of sharing dealer tips with casino service team leads in November.
In a complete reversal of the 2006 policy, Wynn Las Vegas eliminated the position of casino service team leads and reinstated the role of floor supervisor.