Nevada Toughens Standards for Sexual Harassment Compliance
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has proposed a set of minimum standards for its nearly 3,000 licensees to comply with planned mandates for combatting sexual harassment in the workplace.
The standards, issued by board Chairwoman Becky Harris, require that licensees develop comprehensive written policies addressing prevention along with procedures and methods for reporting harassment and clear statements setting forth potential consequences for violators.
Licensees also will be required to communicate their harassment policies and procedures to employees and management and provide easy-to-understand descriptions of prohibited conduct.
Operators also will have to retain records relating to sexual harassment prevention and procedures and validated claims for no less than five years, with the Control Board having the right to inspect written policies and procedures and all records at any time.
The requirements are part of proposed amendments to Regulation 5, which governs the operation of gaming establishments, and are in addition to sexual harassment policies that publicly traded companies and other large corporations already have in place to comply with federal, state and local laws related to diversity, discrimination and harassment.
The amendments are still in development and require the approval of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Once that happens, both non-restricted and restricted licensees—generally operations with 15 or fewer slot machines in the case of the latter—will be required to file annual reports with the Control Board detailing their progress.
The commission’s approval is awaiting the conclusion of the Control Board’s investigation of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts, according to Chairman Tony Alamo.
“These proposed regulations may be just fine, but I want to see the report first,” he said. “Maybe they (regulations) need to be stronger. Maybe there are other things we want to include.”
Wynn, who founded the gaming giant that bears his name, was a revered industry figure and probably its single most powerful executive before he was brought low by an explosive January report in The Wall Street Journal containing testimony from former female employees claiming he routinely preyed on them for sexual favors. A barrage of similar allegations followed, pointing to an alleged pattern of harassment and abuse dating back years and including at least two secret payments to reputed victims in exchange for their silence. Wynn, who has denied the accusations, resigned as chairman and CEO in February and subsequently severed his ties with the company by selling all his stock.
Nevada and Massachusetts regulators have launched investigations into what role Wynn Resorts management may have played in condoning the alleged abuses and covering them up. In July, the company’s long-time General Counsel Kim Sinatra, a close associate of Wynn’s, resigned, and the board of directors, anxious to appease authorities, particularly in Massachusetts, where the company is developing a $2 billion gaming resort near Boston, has purged its ranks of several members with personal ties to Wynn and added four new independent directors, three of them women. Former Harrah’s Entertainment Chairman Phil Satre, who joined the board as vice chairman last month, is expected to be named chairman the end of this year, replacing Wynn family friend D. Boone Wayson.
The aftershocks of the scandal, bolstered by the force of the national #MeToo movement, continue to be felt in other ways. New labor contracts concluded earlier this year between Nevada’s largest casino operators and the 50,000-member Culinary Union are reported to contain provisions for preventing and combatting sexual harassment.
The union has demanded also that operators provide so-called “panic buttons” to housekeepers and working in similar positions for alerting security when confronted with threatening behavior by guests.
The devices have been required in New York City since 2012 after a hotel maid there accused French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his suite. Chicago and Seattle now require them as well.
Recently, more than a dozen major hotel chains encompassing more than 18,000 U.S. hotels—including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Wyndham—said they will provide personal safety devices by 2020 to all employees who deal one-on-one with guests. The companies will also train staff to identify and report harassment and publish anti-sexual harassment policies in multiple languages.
Harassment of hotel staff is an ongoing issue. In a 2016 survey of 500 housekeepers in Chicago, 49 percent said guests had flashed them, exposed themselves or opened the door naked.