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Another Horseshoe Claim Settled

26 March 2004

Las Vegas Sun

by Alana Roberts

LAS VEGAS -- As part of a move by Harrah's Entertainment Inc. to settle all pending claims against Binion's Horseshoe, Harrah's has paid a former dealer who alleged wrongful firing $25,760 in backpay.

Joseph Moss, a former dealer at the casino, alleged in a charge he filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in September that he was fired from the casino in June 2003 for distributing information about a discount health plan while on company property.

While Moss was not represented by a union, he did work as a sales representative for the plan and did enroll other employees into the plan.

A complaint the NLRB filed on behalf of Moss in October said the casino had a rule against employees having another job if it adversely affected job performance or if it was damaging to the company's interest.

However, Moss' actions in distributing the materials are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) as "collective bargaining and other mutual aid and protection," according to the NLRB complaint, which also said that the casino had eliminated the health insurance coverage of Moss and other employees. The settlement is not an admission of guilt on the part of the casino. Moss, who said settlement talks began before a March 11 NLRB trial could take place, is happy the situation was settled pre-trial.

"From the very beginning, I was sure that this would go to trial as the Horseshoe has a tendency to prolong everything legal for as long as possible," Moss said. "I was relieved when Mr. Einsohn (a Harrah's attorney) contacted the NLRB and said that they would settle almost immediately."

The settlement represents 80 percent of Moss's backpay, he said, and is contingent upon his not being rehired. He has been unemployed since being fired and doesn't plan to seek another job as a dealer.

Moss will receive a doctorate in psychology from Lexington University in June and the money will allow him to start a nonprofit mental health clinic in New York with his wife, Lynda, he said.

"If anything, something good will finally come out of the mess that (former Binion's owner) Becky (Behnen) started when she took over the Horseshoe," Moss said.

Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Harrah's Entertainment, said now that Harrah's Entertainment has agreed to manage the Horseshoe for its new owner, MTR Gaming Group, the casino has settled all employee claims against the Horseshoe.

"Either last week or the week before backpay and vacation pay was paid to all Horseshoe employees," Thompson said. "We have also settled all of the medical claims and have reimbursed all employees who have paid out of pocket expenses that should have been covered by insurance."

He also confirmed that an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor into allegations that the Horseshoe's former owners failed to pay insurance benefits although employees had paid the premiums has been settled. He also said other creditors have been paid.

"We have paid all vendors owed over $5,000. Those who are owed under $5,000 will be paid over the next week or so," Thompson said.

Still 10 lawsuits filed by a variety of creditors in Clark County District Court are pending, according to court records. Those creditors include a law firm, a government agency and several vendors.

Another lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court in January and since moved to U.S. District Court is also pending, according to court records. The case involves Richard Wuelly, a former Horseshoe employee, who filed suit against the Horseshoe, alleging that the now-closed casino failed to provide health insurance coverage, although he had paid the premiums. Wuelly sued for $65,000 in unpaid medical bills, $50,000 for damage caused to his credit and another $250,000 for punitive damages. Wuelly could not be reached for comment.

Thompson said he personally wasn't aware of the lawsuit or its status, but said the casino is working to settle all claims. He said the casino is prepared to reopen on April 1 with 90 percent of the more than 900 employees who worked at the casino at the time it was closed in January.

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