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Venetian hit with class-action suit on overtime pay

11 February 2009

Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A Las Vegas attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of current and former banquet servers who claim the Venetian resort failed to pay them all of the overtime wages they are due.

Attorney Leon Greenberg filed the suit Jan. 29 in Clark County District Court on behalf of former Venetian server Steven Csomos and potentially more than 100 other employees.

Greenberg said that since July 1, 2005, when a new Nevada overtime law went into effect, the Venetian and other resorts have been required to pay overtime to these employees -- many of whom were previously exempt from overtime laws because they made too much money or received commissions in the form of gratuity or service fees charged to banquet customers.

"Defendant has either required or allowed the plaintiffs to work in excess of 40 hours per week without the payment of overtime wages," says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues the overtime rate should be based on a "regular rate" of pay consisting of the employee's hourly rate and the per-job gratuity charges that were paid by the Venetian on a weekly basis.

The Venetian had no immediate comment on the allegations. Its policy is generally to not comment on pending litigation.

This isn't the only Strip resort Greenberg has sued over the issue of overtime pay and the distribution of gratuity service charges to workers.

Last year, he filed a pair of class-action suits on behalf of Mandalay Bay banquet servers.

One suit alleged Mandalay Bay failed to turn the required amount of gratuity service fees over to the workers; the other alleged the workers were due overtime pay.

Both suits were dismissed in December by a federal judge, who found the disputes should have been arbitrated outside of court under the terms of the Culinary Union contract for the Mandalay Bay workers.

Greenberg has appealed those rulings to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the courts are the proper place to enforce the state overtime laws regardless of what the union contract says about labor-management disputes.

The union arbitration issue shouldn't be factor in the Venetian case, since it's a nonunion property.

Greenberg argues in all of these lawsuits that the overtime laws serve the public interest.

"One of the major purposes of overtime law, as exemplified in (Nevada code), is to encourage employers to not work individual employees excessively long hours and to foster full employment and the betterment of society at large and the economy by encouraging employers to hire more employees rather than incur the additional costs of working fewer employees longer hours," his suit against the Venetian says.

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