Kathy McCracken has her hands full. She stepped in as CEO of the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino in Pennsylvania just before the coronavirus started disrupting the gaming industry in the US, and now has to deal with a lawsuit being brought against the company by one of its own. An employee of the casino, Jacob Bartakovits, is suing over allegations that the casino is improperly withholding fees related to gaming licenses, and is looking for the lawsuit to be given class-action status as it potentially affects a number of employees.
According to Lehigh Valley Live, the lawsuit is being managed by the McClelland Law Firm, which has managed a number of cases brought against casinos around the country. At the center of the issue is a debate over how Wind Creek deducts certain fees and how it did not properly notify employees of these deductions. Federal law stipulates that any employee eligible to receive tips must be notified in advance if the employer is going to offer a base pay below minimum wage as a result of deductions, and a lack of providing this notice means the employee is entitled to the established minimum wage rate.
George Hanson, an attorney with the law firm, asserts, “Over the past five years we have successfully represented over 10,000 hourly and tipped employees in the gaming industry. We have been investigating this case for several months and look forward to moving it forward as quickly as possible to get unpaid wages back into the hands of employees.”
Bartakovits was employed as a table dealer for a little over a year, from August 2018 to October 2019, and is now looking to receive back pay that would cover the difference between what he received and regular minimum wage pay, as well as any overtime wages. Attorney Ryan McClelland, whose name is carried by the law firm, told Casino.org, “We estimate that hundreds of employees will be affected by the claims asserted in this lawsuit. All hourly, tipped workers employed within the last three years are eligible to join the case.”
As is the case with all casinos across the US, Wind Creek is currently taking a break because of the coronavirus. There’s little chance that the lawsuit will be making its way to a judge’s desk anytime soon, as more pressing issues, and skeleton crews working the courthouses, will delay all litigious actions. Still, McClelland hopes Wind Creek executives will take advantage of the downtime to review its policies, and he adds, “We know this is a particularly difficult time for casino workers, given the current public health crisis, and hope that when Wind Creek reopens, it will change its policies to ensure it pays its hard-working employees all the wages they are due.”
The case is reminiscent of a similar suit from October of last year that saw the MGM Springfield accused of breaking wage laws. In that suit, Shawn Connors, a dealer at the casino, was upset that the property was using tips as an excuse to offer a base salary lower than minimum wage and sought relief in court. That case is still pending.