Published: March 3, 2018

Nevada Gaming regulators to create first-ever policy to combat sexual harassment within industry

The Gaming Control Board is beginning the process of creating its first-ever policy to combat sexual harassment within an industry that has been criticized as an alcohol-fueled boys club where women employed as spa workers, maids or bartenders have little recourse for sexual misconduct.

Board Chairwoman Becky Harris, in a notice to licensees Thursday, said the board has an inherent interest in licensees’ policies, procedures and training on sexual harassment in the workplace as part of its overall goal of protecting the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the state. To that end, the board is soliciting feedback from licensees about their sexual harassment policies in the form of a checklist, which will then be used as the basis for considering possible regulations or minimum internal control standards.

The board’s move toward creating a sexual harassment policy comes in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn — as reported in a Wall Street Journal article last month — and the control board’s ongoing probe into the allegations. But it also comes amid a broader conversation sparked by the allegations about gender inequities in the industry as a whole.

A checklist asks licensees whether their anti-sexual harassment policies contain specific elements, including an unequivocal statement that sexual harassment will not be tolerated, an assurance that employers will take immediate and proportionate corrective action if it determines a violation has occurred and an annual review of internal sexual harassment policies to ensure effectiveness, among other things. It also asks licensees to provide “any reported and substantiated sexual harassment claims” for any Nevada locations and report any charges, settlements or judgments on record with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Nevada Equal Rights Commission or any other relevant agencies over the last 12 months.

The board also provided a sample reporting form for complaints of sexual harassment, which asks for detailed information about allegations of sexual misconduct, whether there were any witnesses and what remedy the person filing the form is requesting. They are also soliciting any other feedback from licensees about possible regulations or standards on the topic.

Current and former female casino executives have described sexual harassment as “pervasive” within the industry, and said that the industry had tolerated a “a very misogynistic culture” for years. The women employed in service-level positions who make up the backbone of the resorts are often in the most vulnerable position, fearing, at the least, that they won’t be believed if they report or, at the most, that they will lose their jobs and be blacklisted from the industry.

Those were some of the reasons given by the women interviewed for the Journalarticle — and one woman who is suing Wynn for allegedly repeatedly propositioning her and pressuring her to touch his genitals on about a dozen occasions — for why they didn’t speak up sooner about Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct. Another woman told police that she had a child with Wynn after he raped her, and yet another still said she was forced to resign from Wynn’s company after she refused to have sex with him, the Associated Press reported this week.

Wynn has called the idea that he ever assaulted any woman “preposterous” and accused his ex-wife Elaine Wynn of inciting the stories, which her attorney has denied. He stepped down as the head of Wynn Resorts in early February, citing his inability to be effective in his roles amid the negative publicity.

After the investigation was announced, those familiar with the gaming regulatory process outlined several paths the board could take, ranging from a narrow look into whether the allegations were handled appropriately through the internal controls within Wynn Resorts to a broader examination of the allegations themselves and whether that activity harms “the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare” of the state and its residents. Others, including a UNLV employment law professor, suggested that the board go further to define what kind of behavior is and isn’t appropriate for the industry as a whole.

“The reputation of the gaming industry in the state of Nevada and in the industry as a whole will only work as long as the reputation is protected,” the professor, Ann McGinley, said in an interview last month.

The consideration of the industry’s sexual harassment policies also comes amid a time of change for the board. Harris took the helm of the board in February as its first-ever female chairwoman.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Sexual Harassment Checklist by Megan Messerly on Scribd


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