Culinary Union announces that 76 hospitality workers have filed a mass action lawsuit against Station Casinos alleging multiple violations of the SB386 “Right to Return” law



Tuesday, March 29, 2022


Bethany Khan: ▪ (702) 387-7088  

Culinary Union announces that 76 hospitality workers have filed a mass action lawsuit against Station Casinos alleging multiple violations of the SB386 “Right to Return” law


Las Vegas, NV – The Culinary Union announced today that 76 hospitality workers have filed a mass action lawsuit against their current and former employer, Station Casinos (case #: A-22-850394-C in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada), alleging violations of the “Nevada Hospitality and Travel Workers Right to Return Act” (SB386), which was passed by the Nevada Legislature May 26, 2021 and signed into law June 8, 2021 by Governor Steve Sisolak. These 76 plaintiffs had over 680 years of combined experience at Station Casinos before they were fired during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SB386 ensures that Nevada’s casino, hospitality, stadium, and travel-related employees are able to return to their former positions. SB386 created a cause of action against employers who fail to abide by the process the law lays out for the orderly recall of hospitality workers to positions with their former employers for which they are qualified.  

The mass action complaint alleges that Station Casinos, Nevada’s third-largest private employer, which owns and operates nine casinos in Las Vegas, has operated in flagrant violation of its obligations as an employer and has not recalled hospitality workers back to work as mandated by SB386. 76 plaintiffs, a majority of whom are women and people of color, are seeking hiring and reinstatement, future and back pay, civil penalties, and compensatory damages/fees resulting from Station Casinos alleged violations of the SB386 law.

“The Culinary Union supports Station Casinos workers as they pursue justice, fight to get their jobs back, and ensure the company follows the SB386 Right to Return law,” said Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “Station Casinos’ actions during the pandemic towards their employees were egregious. After SB386 was passed and right before it went into effect, Station Casinos held job fairs to fill open positions with new workers instead of bringing back their former employees. Station Casinos, which fought enactment of the law every step of the way, isn’t following the law. They need to do the right thing - their current and former employees demand and deserve justice.”

“I love what I do for a living and I want my job back,” said Precious Briggs, a former cocktail server at Palace Station for 2 years. “I was proud to support the campaign to win SB386 because we should have the right to return to our jobs - all of us should. I was loyal and hardworking. I didn’t deserve to be fired during the pandemic - it was unfair and it’s not right. Station Casinos needs to follow the law!”

“It’s such an injustice as a loyal worker to be abandoned by Station Casinos after working there for 16 years,” said Kenia Cobas, a former cook’s helper at Green Valley Ranch. “I’m a single mom and I have two children who depend on me and I need to provide for them. The company acted shamefully during the pandemic. It was so frustrating to see how the company behaved at one of the most stressful times in our lives. They need to think about others - not just about their profits and enriching themselves. Station Casinos needs to follow the law and bring us back to work.” 

“COVID-19 was so difficult for me and losing my job was a big setback. I feel like we were treated very unfairly when they fired us. I feel that the company used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of my coworkers and I. Now, I can finally see a way forward as the economy recovers, but Station Casinos isn’t bringing us back to work like the SB386 law mandates,” said Samuel Fletes, a former cook’s helper at Sunset Station for 7 years. “I want the company to do the right thing and give us our jobs back. My coworkers and I deserve justice. Follow the law, Station Casinos!” 

“COVID-19 was really stressful and it was also really hard to be fired right in the middle of the pandemic,” said Rodrigo Solano, a former cook at Boulder Station for 27 years. “I’m not as young anymore, but it’s unjust to be pushed into early retirement. I want and deserve my job back. I canvassed, phone banked, and door hung to win the SB386 law and I want the Right to Return to my former job. Station Casinos needs to do the right thing and bring us all back to work.” 

“I have invested my time, blood, sweat, and tears during the last 13 years with Station Casinos,” said Barbara Tivas, a former banquet server at Green Valley Ranch. “I worked so hard and I didn’t deserve to be abandoned during the pandemic - that’s why I fought hard to win the Right to Return SB386 law. The Right to Return law was supported by the public and tens of thousands of workers, it’s disappointing to see the company fight the enactment of the law every step of the way and even now, they are defiant and not doing the right thing, the company should have brought me back to work as they reopened and the economy recovered, but they haven’t. Station Casinos needs to do the right thing and follow the law.”  

76 plaintiffs in the mass action lawsuit are suing Station Casinos to:

*Have the right of rehire and reinstatement into job positions for which they are qualified.

*Win future and back pay starting 15 days after Stations Casinos received and failed to respond to each plaintiff’s written notice of a violation under SB386.

*Ensure Station Casinos pays civil penalties of $100 for each employee whose rights under SB386 were violated.

*Secure compensatory and liquidated damages payable to each individual plaintiff in the amount of $500 per day that Stations Casinos violated SB386 starting July 1, 2021.

*Ensure that Station Casinos follows the law going forward.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 98% of Culinary Union members were laid off and currently 80% are back to work. While a majority of unionized workers already have extended recall protections in their contracts, a majority of workers protected by SB386 are not unionized.  

The Culinary Union is proud to have won the Right to Return for over 350,000 hospitality workers in Nevada. SB386 gave hundreds of thousands of union and non-union casino, hospitality, stadium, and travel-related employees, who were laid off, through no fault of their own, the Right to Return to their jobs as business returns. Every Republican member in the 2021 Nevada Legislature voted to not support SB386. 

SB386 Right to Return mandates and enforces the following requirements in Nevada:

*Workers laid off after March 12, 2020 for economic reasons due to the pandemic are eligible for Right to Return. Protections in SB386 begin July 1, 2021 and expire August 31, 2022.

*Hundreds of thousands of union and non-union hospitality, airport, casino, travel, and stadium workers (including third party operators at hotels and casinos such as retail shops, restaurants, bars, and parking facilities) are protected.

*Covered employers (that have 30 or more employees) must make offers to laid-off employees when they have job openings for the same or similar positions as the employee worked previously.

*Workers who receive job offers have 24-hours to accept or decline and must be available to work within five days of receiving an offer. 

*Employers are cleared of obligation to recall a worker if the employee turns down three offers, or if the worker is not reachable by email, mail, phone call, or text message for each of the three offers. 

*Notices for recall must be available in English, Spanish, or any language that at least 10% or more of the employees speak. 

*Employers must provide an employee with a written explanation within 30 days if they decline to recall a laid-off employee due to lack of qualifications.

*If an employee’s recall rights under SB386 conflict with rights under their collective bargaining agreement, the collective bargaining agreement prevails.

*Laid off employees may enforce their rights through a complaint to the Labor Commissioner or by suing in court.

The provisions in SB386 are a result of a 13-month intensive effort by the Culinary Union to ensure union and non-union workers were not left behind as the economy recovers: 

*Thousands of conversations with laid off / terminated workers during a pandemic. 

*Dozens of public comments made before the Clark County Commission about the importance of Right to Return.

*Teams of hospitality workers dropped thousands of Right to Return doorhangers in Las Vegas neighborhoods encouraging Nevadans to call Republicans who voted against returning workers to their jobs: State Senators Dr. Joseph Hardy, Scott Hammond, Keith Pickard, Carrie Buck and Assemblymembers Heidi Kasama, Richard McArthur, Andy Matthews, and Melissa Hardy.

*Dozens of laid off hospitality workers flew up to Carson City to rally and lobby Nevada legislators directly.

*Workers picketed in front of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City for the first time in decades.

*Laid off or terminated hospitality workers gave media interviews sharing their stories to TV, radio, newspaper, and online publications.

*Nevadans moved the SB386 Opinion Poll up from the very bottom to the top #2 most popular with 3,352 opinions IN FAVOR of SB386 Right to Return.

*Culinary Union ran digital ads on social media and digital billboards in Las Vegas and Reno to raise awareness about SB386. 

Right to Return legislation around the country: Nevada, California, as well as local governments in New Haven, Providence, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Paul, San Jose, Santa Clara, Oakland, Pasadena, Petaluma, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles County, Pasadena, San Diego, Port of San Diego, Glendale, and Long Beach have enacted policies to protect hospitality workers with the Right to Return.


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.   

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest Latinx/Black/AAPI/immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project.   

The Culinary Union has a diverse membership which is 55% women and 45% immigrants. The demographics of Culinary Union members are approximately: 54% Latinx, 18% white, 15% Asian, 12% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples.  

Culinary Union members work as: Guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting and winning for working families in Nevada for 87 years. / @Culinary226 


More News

Get Connected