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Arnold M. Knightly

Wynn tip-sharing policy faces labor boss's review

14 February 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- State Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek will take a second look at the controversial Wynn Las Vegas tip-pooling policy.

The Nevada Department of Business & Industry notified interested parties this week of a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. March 19 at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas.

The hearing is for a wage claim filed approximately six months ago by a former Wynn dealer challenging the legality of the new policy and seeking $8,334 in unpaid tips, Tancheck said.

Wynn Las Vegas attorney Greg Kamer was careful to point out that "it's a formal matter for this one individual, not a class action" covering all dealers.

Tanchek said he will try to issue a final ruling within 30 days of the hearing.

"It has yet to be formally argued in front of me," he said. "I'm interested to hear what (both sides) have to say."

Tanchek's first look at the policy, which concluded that no state labor law was broken, was an independent review beginning in August 2006 following an outcry from dealers and inquiries from the media.

During the first investigation, agents from Tanchek's office met with officials from Wynn Las Vegas and observed the new floor organization before issuing a ruling in September.

The announcement of the review comes while an appeal of a class action lawsuit filed by two dealers sits before the state Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the dealers are asking the state's high court to reconsider the dismissal of lawsuit challenging the legality of the resort's tip policy.

On Dec. 6, District Court Judge Douglas Herndon dismissed the lawsuit after finding during a 70-minute hearing that dealers are not contract employees. Herndon said state law allows casinos to change their tip policies.

Reno-based labor lawyer Mark Thierman, who represents the dealers in the lawsuit, said the timing of the hearing is curious because of the pending appeal.

However, whatever the ruling is could affect the way the state's high court views the dealers' case.

"It's certainly not the be-all to end-all," said Thierman, who plans to attend the labor commissioner's hearing. "But it's going to be significant. Nobody's taking it lightly."

Wynn's attorney said the company, which declined to comment directly Wednesday, is taking the hearing seriously even though the policy has passed initial legal scrutiny.

"We take all challenges seriously," Kamer said. "We believe what we did was lawful. The commissioner already once said it was lawful, Judge Herndon already said it was lawful. I assume it will be found lawful again under the existing case law."

Wynn tip-sharing policy faces labor boss's review is republished from