June 29 (Reuters) - Unions representing 60,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, are suing three casino properties based on allegations of dangerous working conditions.
The Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 filed the lawsuit on Monday against Harrah’s Las Vegas, owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp, and the Bellagio and Signature Condominiums, both subsidiaries of MGM Resorts International.
The lawsuit claims the companies have not sufficiently protected workers and their families from the spread of COVID-19, and that the current rules and procedures for responding to workers who contract COVID-19 have been inadequate.
Among other claims, 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, the day the Nevada governor ordered guests to wear them.
“We have offered free testing to all employees before they report to work and require it if they exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive and we have made available tests in other circumstances that do not dictate that a test is required,” an MGM Resorts International spokesman said in a statement.
“We have worked to train our managers in our incident response protocols and we work very closely with the health department officials in their efforts to contact trace.”
Caesars Entertainment did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At least 19 union members and their families have died from the coronavirus since March 1, according to the lawsuit, which seeks injunctive relief.
The Las Vegas gaming industry reopened on June 4 with new safety protocols, 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 as the industry begins to reopen. On Saturday hundreds of Disneyland Resort employees and Disney unions protested from their cars, saying the Walt Disney Co had not agreed to adequate protections for employees when the Anaheim, California resort reopens.
Petitioners are also pressing Disney to delay the July 11 reopening of Orlando-based Walt Disney World, citing recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in Florida. (Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Tom Brown)
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