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Unions sue Nevada casino properties over working conditions

Harrah's Las Vegas

(Reuters) Unions representing 60,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, are suing three casino properties over allegations of dangerous working conditions.

The lawsuit filed Monday by the Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 against Harrah's Las Vegas and the Bellagio and Signature Condominiums claims the companies have not sufficiently protected workers and their families from the spread of COVID-19 and that rules and procedures for responding to workers who contract COVID-19 have been inadequate.

Harrah's is owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp., and the Bellagio and Signature Condominiums are subsidiaries of MGM Resorts International.

The lawsuit alleges the companies failed to immediately inform employees about co-workers who tested positive, and only “encouraged” guests to wear face masks while in public areas until June 24, when the Nevada governor ordered guests to wear masks.

A spokesman for MGM Resorts said in a statement that the company has offered free testing to employees before they report to work and required it for those who exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, among other measures.

In a statement, a Caesars Entertainment spokeswoman said the company acted in accordance with its health and safety protocols when it learned an employee had tested positive for COVID-19 and launched an investigation at the direction of the Southern Nevada Health District.

At least 19 union members and family members have died from the coronavirus since March 1, according to the lawsuit, which seeks injunctive relief.

The Las Vegas gaming industry reopened June 4 after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers in other U.S. tourism hubs are also pushing for greater protections when they reopen, including at California's Disneyland Resort. Workers at Walt Disney Co.'s Walt Disney World in Orlando are pressing the company to delay the planned July 11 reopening, citing recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.