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Arnold M. Knightly

Caesars Palace settles lawsuit

21 August 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Caesars Palace has agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of eight employees, the federal agency announced Monday.

The lawsuit alleged that male supervisors at the Strip resort forced seven female kitchen workers to have sex on the threat of being fired.

As part of the settlement, Caesars Palace did not accept any liability and denied any wrongdoing.

"All of Harrah's entertainment affiliated properties, including Caesars Palace, have comprehensive all-employee, anti-harassment programs, supported by strict enforcement," said Alberto Lopez, spokesman for Harrah's Entertainment. "While we deny wrongdoing, it is in the best interest of all parties to put this matter to rest and move on."

Lopez said the supervisors alleged to be involved haven't worked for Caesars Palace for four years and are not employed by Harrah's Entertainment.

The money collected will go directly to the women and one male supervisor who tried to assist some of the women. The agency alleged the company retaliated against him for that.

The lawsuit, filed in March 2005, was filed after the EEOC failed to reach a voluntary settlement with Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Palace's parent company at the time.

Six of the women, who were aged 19 to in to their 40s, only spoke Spanish. Four of the women still work at Caesars, according to the EEOC.

"In a case like this where many of the workers were monolingual Spanish speakers, victims of sexual harassment often feel further isolated, marginalized and unable to vindicate their rights," Anna Park, an attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Los Angeles District, said.

Under the agreement, Caesars Palace will provide harassment training to all employees, provide semiannual reports to the EEOC on its employment practices for three years and revise its employment policies and procedures to conform to federal law.

Sexual harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC claimed the unlawful behavior dated back to January 2000 and included sex in "makeshift sex rooms."

"It was a room in the back of the kitchen. Everyone called it the sex room," Park told The Associated Press. "When they took you back there, they knew that's what that was for. That shouldn't exist in any workplace.

"It was a dirty little secret that was there for a long time," she said.

The agency also charged that management failed to address and correct the behavior.

The women, who mostly cleaned silverware, complained as early as 2001 to a human resources manager, but the manager did not investigate the allegations thoroughly because she had a relationship with one of the men involved in the abuse, said Federico Sayre, the lawyer for the four women who suffered the worst abuse.

"The HR woman would use the 'b' word in reference to my gals when they would complain," Sayre said. "She just didn't believe what these ladies were complaining about. She refused to investigate or do anything about it." Sayre said the human resources manager is still employed by Harrah's.

The lawsuit was brought by the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office. That office opened a satellite in Las Vegas last summer to help deal with the amount of cases in the area.

Ten of the district office's 34 open cases are in Las Vegas, according to Park.

Nearly 10 lawsuits have been filed in Las Vegas during each of the past four years, about half being sexual harassment cases.

She said the majority deal with businesses outside the gaming industry, but did not have an exact number.

The Caesars Palace lawsuit was filed before Harrah's Entertainment's acquisition of the Strip property on June 13, 2005, as part of the $9.4 billion buyout of Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars Palace settles lawsuit is republished from