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Arnold M. Knightly

Decision waits in Wynn tip case

9 October 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- State Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek on Thursday said he doesn't expect to issue a decision on whether Wynn Las Vegas' tip-pooling policy is legal until early next year.

Tanchek completed a hearing that began in July and included approximately 55 hours of testimony from dealers, resort officials and industry experts.

Attorneys for Wynn Las Vegas on Wednesday concluded their defense of the resort's September 2006 decision to include floor supervisors in the casino's tip pool. Rebuttal witnesses were called the rest of Wednesday and Thursday.

Tanchek will issue his final decision about 30 days after attorneys for both sides submit final briefs to the labor commissioner. Tanchek said with the holiday season approaching, it may be difficult to issue a ruling before January.

Attorneys for both sides confirmed, however, that they will appeal any decision by Tanchek, probably to Clark County District Court, where dealers first challenged the new policy in 2006.

Wynn dealers are asking Tanchek to find that the resort's new tip policy violates state labor laws. They are asking him to award about 500 dealers $35 million in back pay and penalties.

Attorneys for Wynn have maintained that the tip policy complies with state laws. They said the resort's tip-sharing policy allowing front-line resort employees to share dealers' tips is comparable to a restaurant sharing tips between busboys, bartenders and waiters.

Attorneys for Wynn dealers Daniel Baldonado and Joseph Cesarz filed a class action lawsuit in 2006. The court dismissed the lawsuit saying the state labor commissioner's office was the proper venue for the case.

The state Supreme Court upheld the lower court's opinion in October 2008.

Separately, a federal judge Thursday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Baldonado and 154 current and former Wynn dealers.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada and claims the tip-sharing policy violates federal labor laws.