More regs? Why not enforce ones you have?

More regs? Why not enforce ones you have?

March 06, 2018 3:00 AM
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Last week the Nevada Gaming Control Board distributed a Notice to Licensees that effectively declared to the industry the Board will be looking to adopt regulations around sexual harassment in the workplace.

Let’s forget for a moment the adoption of regulation is, or used to be, up to the Nevada Gaming Commission, and tip our hat that the Board, after having conducted in-depth investigations on every gaming license holder in the state and having ignored many a past transgression, or simply missed the actions of many a very public person in their licensing investigations, has decided to finally champion the cause of fighting sexual harassment in the workplace.

Within their release the Board provided a checklist of possible future required standards as well as a possible complaint form to be used in the reporting of sexual harassment.

While all well intended, what about the consequences to not only the licensees but to the past and possibly present representatives of the Board that either missed or ignored complaints when either reported in court filings or other public or private records?

Unless there is accountability and consequences, more regulations are not needed. Fact is sexual harassment has been a civil rights violation and on the books since the 70’s, and deciding 40-plus years later when a spotlight has been placed on the allegations around a prominent gaming individual to add more regulations when there are adequate laws in place, seems more an optic than action.

Over my career I have had the unpleasant task of handling and addressing a number sexual harassment complaints. After investigation some of those complaints resulted in terminations, some resulted in no action as they were fabrications. With the recent continuing headlines on this topic, I have thought back to some of the incidents, and even after all these years still shake my head.

In one, a casino host would proposition some of the resorts younger employees to see if they wanted to make extra money by letting him “arrange dates” with certain rich customers. When finally reported, it did not take much to get the facts. He was fired immediately with full documentation in his file.

Less than two days later he was working at a key competing property where he was promoted more than a few times and recruited to yet another competing property. On two occasions when I ran into him, he thanked me for firing him because he was making more money, which I knew was true, and claimed his new bosses did not care about his business practices, which I do not know if true or not. I was just surprised he was even hired and allowed to work after he was fired in the first place.

By contrast, an employee had come to me to complain his boss was harassing him and he thought she was going to fire him. After listening to a protracted story, by sheer coincidence on my desk was paperwork from his boss recommending him for a promotion.

After a little conversation, it seems he had misconstrued all of her intense questioning – thinking she was planning on firing him when she was documenting her recommendation for promotion – and concocted the harassment story in an effort to protect himself.

He was embarrassed and offered to resign, but I cut him slack, promised not to tell his boss and held back his promotion for a few weeks as an object lesson. He has since had a long career.

There were of course numerous events around cocktail waitresses, dealers, hosts and even IT staff that had to be dealt with. But perhaps the hardest ones to deal with were where the relationships started consensual then at the conclusion one of the parties either did not want it to end or became vindictive. Then the fur did fly, often resulting in terminations. In the absence of clear evidence of harassment it was dealt with by changing shifts and assuring no over lapping work schedules or managerial influence.

Throughout all my experiences though, the worst (fortunately I was not an employee or officer of that company) involved a Human Resource executive who helped sweep an event under the rug and was very well rewarded for their efforts. The most disheartening aspect was the HR executive, in my opinion, should have helped the subject employee but instead used their control of the situation for personal gain.

Based on my experiences, if the Board and Commission members really want to make a difference around curbing sexual harassment, rather than adding more regulations, simply enforce the current laws and regulations, require all licensees to have a third-party reporting service so there is a reporting trail for the Board to audit, and use their discretionary authority over fines and licensing to make a real statement about consequences of actions.