The termination of an employee from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas two years ago may have started the
dice ball rolling to what may be the largest wage and overtime lawsuit in Nevada history! Here’s how the story goes, according to news reports and court filings…
Cosmopolitan terminates room service sales clerk Melodee Megia on the grounds she said “bye-bye” instead of “good bye” after she finished taking a customer’s order over the phone. She was eight months pregnant at the time. Megia filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in Nevada State Court in Clark County based upon a series of offensive remarks by her supervisor and the trivial nature of the company’s reason for her termination. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged Cosmopolitan required its employees to word overtime without additional compensation in violation of state labor laws.
Darlene Lewis (a former “Slot Guest Service Representative” in the Slot Operations Department) filed a Class Action Complaint on behalf of herself and other similarly situated persons who were employed by the Cosmopolitan alleging that the Las Vegas Casino and Hotel failed to pay wages to her and other similarly situated hourly paid, nonexempt employees for certain employer mandated “off-the-clock” activities. Lewis v. Nevada Property 1, LLC, d/b/a Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, (U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. of Nevada (Las Vegas) Case No.: 2:12-cv-01564-MMD-GWF). Plaintiff seeks recovery of regular and overtime wages for the time she was required to work without proper compensation.
This lawsuit is in federal court as it claims a cause of action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for failure to pay wages in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.; failure to pay overtime wages in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 207; and failure to pay the correct overtime rate in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 207(e). Ms. Lewis also makes claims for Nevada labor law violations.
Supporting statements of Ms. Megia and others are included with the lawsuit of Ms. Lewis in federal court. The crux of these statements for failed compensation for time worked involves Cosmopolitan’s policy to require employees to get dressed in the casino’s assigned uniforms only while onsite, but not while on the clock. Ms. Lewis estimates that she was required to perform work activities for 1.5 hours (90 minutes) each day for which she was not compensated, as mentioned in court filings:
Each and every day, I would arrive at the casino prior to my regularly
scheduled shift and head straight to the “Garment District.” The
Garment District was the fancy name the Cosmopolitan gave to the
area where all employees were supposed to go to pick up their
uniforms and get dressed. Once I arrived at the Garment District, I
swiped my employee badge and I waited for a conveyor rack to bring
down my washed and ready uniform. . . . Once I got my uniform, I
would go to the changing area, change out of my regular work
clothes, put on my uniform, and put my regular clothes in a laundry
bag. I would then put my regular clothes back on the rack. Everyone
I knew who wore a CoStar uniform had to do the same thing. That’s
what we were told to do by our managers and that was the written
policy [sic] our employee handbook.
While the Plaintiff filed three supporting statements, including Ms. Megia’s, the Cosmopolitan filed 97 employee declarations. However, like many class actions, a former employee is not in a convenient position to contact, let alone inquire, what other similarly situated current or former employees may have the same or similar claim. Here, Cosmopolitan is ordered by the court to turn over to Plaintiff the names and addresses of former and current employees (with the similar wage positions as the potential class) so that a “Notice of Pendency of Collective Action Lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act” may be sent to all of them, along with an explanation of the legal action and a consent to join the class.
August 30, 2013
Pursuant to a court Order, over 7,000 present and former employees of Cosmopolitan will be mailed a copy of an official federal court notice and given the opportunity to join the class in what might be the largest wage and overtime lawsuit in Nevada history, a lawsuit seeking $70M for employees who allege they were wrongfully unpaid for performing job related tasks on the casino property such as changing in and out of company uniforms on site, picking up and returning their required “cash bank” at designated cashier locations, and miscalculations of the overtime pay.
In response to the federal lawsuit, Cosmopolitan has filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims, which has yet to be responded to by the Plaintiff and remains pending with the court.
More information may be found at Plaintiff’s attorney’s website here.