An employee at Wind Creek Bethlehem filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Pennsylvania gaming property over pay and tip issues. The plaintiff’s attorney is asking that the case be designated as a class action, so it includes other company workers facing similar situations.
In the litigation, filed in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the plaintiff was identified as Jacob Bartakovits of Hellertown, Pennsylvania, according to Lehigh Valley Live.
The case claims that Wind Creek is deducting the cost of gaming license fees from employees’ wages, Attorney Ryan McClelland, whose Missouri-based law firm is representing Bartakovits, told Casino.org.
“These fees can range in the hundreds of dollars. Federal law prohibits such items, which are considered to be primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer — similar to uniforms — to be included as wages,” McClelland explained.
Employers may not take credit for such items in meeting their minimum wage obligations,” McClelland added. “Simply put, Wind Creek Bethlehem cannot pass its cost of doing business onto its employees.”
He further explained that the impacted employees were already paid below the minimum wage. Also, Wind Creek Bethlehem “failed to provide its tipped employees with a sufficient ‘tip credit’ notice,” McClelland said.
Under federal law, an employer must provide a detailed notice to its tipped employee before it can pay them below minimum wage, he added. Employees who did not receive the notice are entitled to receive the full minimum wage as their base rate for every hour worked.
“We estimate that hundreds of employees will be affected by the claims asserted in this lawsuit,” McClelland said. “All hourly, tipped workers employed within the last three years are eligible to join the case.”
The House Always Wins
McClelland wants the case to move through the courts quickly. “We know this is a particularly difficult time for casino workers, given the current public health crisis, and hope that when Wind Creek reopens, it will change its policies to ensure it pays its hard-working employees all the wages they are due,” McClelland said.
“Wind Creek Bethlehem is in the gaming industry, but has approached employee compensation with the same philosophy — ‘the house always wins,’” McClelland said in the statement. “However, there are no fair odds at play here. The casino has rigged its compensation system in its favor and against its own employees.”
This suit is one of many filed by McClelland’s law firm for alleged improper paying of employees.
Tip Sharing Controversy
On a related front, once Nevada’s current shutdown of restaurants and casinos ends, workers at bars, restaurants, and other venues will face a controversial federal proposal where employees could be forced to share tips under the direction of managers.
It would require front of house workers, such as bartenders and wait staff, to share tips with back of house employees, such as dishwashers or cooks. Currently, Nevada employees who get tips also earn at least the minimum wage beyond the tips.