It's blatant and obvious age discrimination, but Revel's CEO denies this, and he actually expects us to believe him.
The Revel Hotel and Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City New Jersey
After the economic meltdown, in March 2009 construction was stopped at the new Revel Casino in Atlantic City New Jersey because of difficulties in raising the financing necessary to complete the project. Revel eventually resumed construction in February 2011 after new financing was secured.
Revel's financing plans included $261.4 million in state tax
reimbursements from the taxpayers that the casino will receive over 20 years
(just like subsidizing a major sports stadium). CEO Kevin DeSanctis disclosed
that the $2.4 billion mega-resort will open May 15, 2012.
The casino is projected to provide 5,000 full-time jobs. But Revel plans to restrict the number of years its frontline employees may work in their jobs. Cocktail servers, bartenders, dealers, bellhops, promotions workers, valets and front desk hosts - positions that require constant contact with customers - would fall under the employment restriction.
The Huffington Post reported that according to NPR, "workers at Atlantic City's highly anticipated Revel casino, including bellhops and blackjack dealers, will be subject to term limits of four to six years, at the end of which they will repeat the hiring process."
After their "terms" are up, these employees would have to reapply
for their jobs again after their "contracts" have expired. Then they
would have to compete with other applicants and would lose their jobs if they
were not considered the best qualified candidates.
An Atlantic City labor leader immediately denounced Revel's hiring policy, calling it a form of discrimination that would threaten job security for what are traditionally union positions.
Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, Atlantic City's largest casino union, equated Revel's hiring policy to age discrimination. He said it appears Revel wants to treat its employees as "independent contractors" rather than as regular company workers.
"To me, it's just one more mysterious item with Revel. They have no
interest in playing by the same rules as everyone else in terms of employment.
This is further evidence of that," said McDevitt, whose union represents
14,000 workers at Atlantic City's existing 11 casino hotels.
Cocktail servers and bartenders are among the food and beverage workers who make up a large chunk of Local 54's membership. The union and Revel have not been able to come to contract terms. "We're not talking to them," McDevitt said bluntly.
Revel's CEO, Kevin DeSanctis lamely denied any type of discrimination. He said Revel simply wants to keep its work force "fresh" for what he called "high-touch" positions that are key to Revel's "image".
Gaming analysts said Revel's term limits are unprecedented in the Atlantic City casino industry. They believe it would allow Revel to hold down labor costs and make changes in its work force without the constraints of union contracts.
And then there are also the issues of in-house seniority when bidding for jobs and vacation time. Not to mention the employees' ability to enter into long-term financial obligations, such as a home mortgage or an auto loan - - especially without any type of job security.
Cocktail servers who work in the casinos are generally considered to have one of the best non-management jobs. In conjunction to their hourly wages (approx. $10-an-hour + dental and healthcare benefits), those with the most seniority are usually assigned to the craps or black jack pits on a swing shift, and can average between $200 to $300 a night in tips; or if they have less seniority, they might earn $100 to $150 working in a slot station.
Bartenders (male or female) also fair much better if they have more seniority, and would most likely be working at a "front" bar (a public bar serving casinos guests). A bartender with less seniority might work at a "back" bar (a service bar behind the house, out of public view, serving cocktail waitresses) and usually earn much less in tips.
In an established union house, the more in-house seniority a cocktail server or bartender has, the better the shift the employee may bid on. But because these jobs are so sought after, there is little turnover in the casino, so sometimes it takes years to bid on the better shifts...so employees are usually "older" by the time they have enough seniority to bid on the better paying shifts.
And then their is the matter of a union pension fund. After 20 years of being vested, one can qualify for a modest monthly check or lump sum payout when they turn 62 years old. If they are "let go" after 4 to 6 years, they lose those years towards their retirement fund.
One way these corporations (casinos) skirt the age discrimination law (which is part of the Civil Rights Act) is to use bona fide occupational qualifications when hiring younger people over older...usually when hiring younger and more "attractive" cocktail waitresses. Sometimes on a casino's website, a job classification might list a beverage server's job as "model waitress", or they might even require an applicant to sometimes dance.
The casinos prefer younger and more "attractive" people in their frontline positions such as bartenders and cocktail waitresses - - - it's an "image" thing. That's why most of these workers belong to a union, so they won't be discriminated against for age, and can have some modem of job security and seniority when bidding for better shifts when there are better job openings as they get older.
For job openings at Revel's website, it states for Bartender Lounge & Events "This is a defined service cycle role with an employment period of 4, 5 or 6 years. For Cocktail Server it states "Experience as a cocktail server or a willingness and aptitude to learn the role. This is a defined service cycle role with an employment period of 4, 5 or 6 years."
A willingness and aptitude to learn the role? Hmmmmmmm.
Just as in Las Vegas, Atlantic City casinos have also been known to illegally fire cocktail waitresses and were also sued for age discrimination.
Most of the older workers at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas that management tends to "terminate" also have 4 weeks of paid vacation after 12 years if service, and so this is another "plus" for firing them to replace them with new and much younger workers - - they will have no paid vacation time and are hired at the minimum starting wage (and maybe their insurance premiums might cost less as well when their dental and healthcare benefits eventually kick in).
Pictured below are black jack dealers (who are usually not covered in union contracts anyway) posing at the Las Vegas Palms, a non-union casino. If these young women worked at the Revel casino in Atlantic City, in 4 to 6 years they could be fired for "getting too old" or "over-weight", and then lose their cars and homes. They'd be replaced with younger and/or more "attractive" women to deal cards to Mister DeSanctis' wealthy clients - - "whales" who visit the casinos to indulge in "eye candy", besides just being there to gamble.
Another way casinos have been circumventing collective bargaining agreements with union contracts is to use a subsidiary or managing company to operate a restaurant or bar facility inside the hotel or casino, and hiring "outside" and "at will" employees with no union rights or benefits at all, and usually paying them much less.
Also, to skirt the law for random drug testing after their employees are already hired and working, the casinos (corporations) use "reasonable suspicion" as an excuse for drug testing. They hope to catch the older workers with either alcohol, illegal drugs (including marijuana), or even an over-medication of their own prescriptions in a drug test. This way they can be fired without the casino having to worry about paying for unemployment benefits, back pay in an employee disputed appeal, or a cash settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The casinos even pay cash bonuses to department head managers at the end of
the year for
firing employees "reducing the payroll"
if they don't also have to payout unemployment benefits - - such as when a CEO
like Revel's Kevin DeSanctis receives stock-options
as compensation for "performance" for layoffs, outsourcing, and
reducing payroll costs - - it's all about company profits and the corporate
executive's wages, and may the employees be damned.
And once these "older" workers are laid off, the Republicans are pushing to deny them extended unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid - - and TANF if they have children. The GOP and the top 1% (like Revel's CEO Kevin DeSanctis) has been attacking American workers and destroying the middle-class for 30 years.
Las Vegas is in a Right to Work state. A "Right-to-Work" law doesn't mean one has a right to work. It's a statute that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that make membership, payment of union dues, or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring. But most of the major Las Vegas casinos are union houses (both for better job security, and for better wages and benefits). Atlantic City is in New Jersey which is not a Right to Work state, but is currently considering it.
But union dues (in Las Vegas, about $50 a month for a bartender, less for a "beverage server") is a very small price to pay for a good job with job security, a free meal in the employee cafeteria, and insurance for eyeglasses, full dental and healthcare insurance (for a very small co-pay). And if one itemizes, unions dues are also tax deductible from their income taxes.
The casino bosses (like all corporations) would pay minimum wages if they could. The mega-wealthy casino moguls in Las Vegas such as Kirk Kerkorian of MGM Resorts International (who tried to bust union organizing at the MGM Grand), Sheldon Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands (who donated $10 million to Newt Gingrich's campaign), and brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta (the owners of Stations Casinos who are currently running anti-union ads on TV), are all anti-worker and they will most likely be following this story very closely...you can bet on it.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first federal law designed to protect most U.S. employees from age discrimination. Revel's website says, "Revel Entertainment Group, LLC is an Equal Opportunity Employer." Yeah, right.
According to Revel's website, the company claims, "Our intention is to recruit and employ those who naturally appreciate the importance of ethics [and] a mindset to do the right thing..."
But is Revel and its CEO Kevin DeSanctis doing the "ethical" and "right" thing by hiring with "term limits"?
Kevin DeSanctis probably thinks that everyone who's not a CEO (and over 30 years old) should work as a greeter at Wal-Mart until they're old enough to retire on Social Security. Because he pays a lower tax rate on his stock-options than his employees do on their hourly wages, Kevin DeSanctis doesn't need to worry as much about his financial future.
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About the author
Bud Meyers has worked 30 years in the hospitality business - - 20 of them in the casino industry - - 11 of those for Steve Wynn in Las Vegas, where he has lived since 1989. Now at the ripe age 56 years old, he has become too old to be hired by a casino, so now he just sometimes writes about them.