Las Vegas Taking Steps To Protect Employees In The #MeToo Era

finger pressing panic button

Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International each reached contract agreements with unions to provide panic buttons to their housekeepers, bartenders, and cocktail servers.

MGM Resorts released this statement about the panic button rollout:

“MGM Resorts has implemented safety-button technology at all of its properties and is working to implement even more robust safety devices in the near future. Safety-button technology is an important tool that allows us to be more proactive in ensuring employee safety, and we are committed to utilizing technology and other measures to keep guests and employees safe.”

The industry considers these employees more vulnerable to sexual harassment in their respective roles. They will to panic buttons that would alert authorities should an interaction take place.

About 15 casinos are still in negotiations. The Culinary Workers Union’s Local 226 stated that labor contracts in place cover 36,000 service workers at the following establishments (and other casinos on the Las Vegas Strip):

  • Bellagio
  • Mandalay Bay
  • The Mirage
  • MGM Grand
  • Caesars Palace

Not all casinos are on board – yet

According to KTNV, the contracts at the following casinos have expired:

  • Treasure Island
  • Tropicana
  • Westgate
  • Binion’s
  • Downtown Grand
  • El Cortez
  • Four Queens
  • Fremont
  • Golden Gate
  • Golden Nugget
  • Main Street Station
  • The D
  • Plaza
  • SLS

Until these locations reach an agreement with the unions, they are in a limbo of sorts. That leaves about 8,700 workers unaccounted for at these properties.

Of these properties, one of the union demands is panic buttons for employees.

How the panic button works

Employees can place these small, remote-like devices in their pockets. The device will alert employees and can bring authorities to their location (regardless of movement) within two minutes.

One such company that creates panic buttons is Technovations Solutions. This company has received attention from a variety of sources in anticipation of these contracts, the CEO Peg McGregor told KTNV.

These panic buttons originally came about in the aftermath of the Vegas shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in October 2017. Caesars enacted a policy in February 2018 to check hotel rooms every 24 hours in the name of employee safety, regardless of ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs. At this time, the casino considered safety/panic buttons to prepare in the event of a threat.

Vox reported that these workers in part have been pushing for wider protection from managers since the #MeToo movement and in light of the news surrounding the allegations against Steve Wynn, who had allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted female workers at his casinos.

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Sexual harassment widely reported by casino employees

The culinary and bartender unions affiliated with Unite Here found that harassment was a widespread concern within the industry. A poll from a May survey revealed that of more than 10,000 casino employees:

  • 27 percent of the hotel housekeepers said they had been sexually harassed by guests, managers, or others while on the job
  • 59 percent of Las Vegas cocktail servers said they have been sexually harassed by guests, managers, and others while working
  • About 72 percent of the Las Vegas cocktail servers surveyed said guests had done something to make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe
  • About 53 percent of the hotel housekeepers said guests had done something to make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe
  • At least 5,000 sexual harassment complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2005 to 2015 (more than any other industry report) according to the Center for American Progress

Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino has reported ordered panic buttons for workers, even while still in contract negotiations with the local labor union, Fox 5 Vegas reported.

The union members picketed July 6 at the Westgate and the D Las Vegas.

Katie Callahan

About

Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.