On February 26, 2019, the Nevada Gaming Commission announced that it was levying a fine of $20 million against Wynn Resorts for its failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by the company’s former chairman and CEO Steven Wynn.
Back on January 26, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published allegations of Wynn’s sexual misconduct against a number of Wynn Resorts employees which were alleged to have occurred over the course of decades. The allegations included sexual harassment, coercion, indecent exposure and sexual assault. Wynn denied the allegations.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board initiated an investigation into the allegations on January 30, 2018. After a year-long investigation, it concluded that there were at least eight instances of sexual misconduct by Wynn that were reported to Wynn Resorts but not investigated by the company.
Wynn Resorts admitted that it failed in its duty to investigate the allegations of misconduct. In its statement, Wynn Resorts stated that they had removed all employees who were aware of the allegations but failed to investigate or report them. In addition, Wynn Resorts stated that it underwent “an extensive self-examination over the last 12 months” and that the company’s new human resources leadership was making the company’s workplace culture a priority.
Examples of the importance of training management to properly react to complaints of potential harassment are all over the news. Managers and employees alike should be appraised of the reporting and complaint procedures set forth in a company’s harassment policy. Mid-level managers should have clear instructions on who they should report such complaints to so that the complaint can be investigated. When an employer does not promptly and appropriately investigate such complaints, civil liability and administrative penalties can attach.
The Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman made clear that the fine against Wynn Resorts was not necessarily its last step in resolving Wynn’s wrongdoing, but rather, Wynn himself may be personally fined.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.