Wynn Resorts: Back In The Sexual Harassment Business?

Employment, Racial Justice

Wynn Resorts: Back In The Sexual Harassment Business?

Announces Everett, MA Casino Will Partner With Restaurant Found Liable For Sexual Harassment Of Low-Wage Latina Worker 

Boston, MA – Directly on the heels of removing Steve Wynn’s name from the casino it is building in Everett, Massachusetts, Wynn Resorts announced this week a partnership with the Varano Group, the owner of Strega Waterfront, a restaurant that has been found liable for sexual harassment of a low-wage immigrant worker in Boston. Advocates for women facing sexual harassment decried the planned partnership and called on Wynn Resorts to immediately sever its ties with the restaurant group.

The Encore Boston Harbor Casino was formerly named after the Wynn Resorts until its founder, Steve Wynn, received an avalanche of negative publicity for sexual misconduct spanning decades. Civil rights advocates say that the Wynn Resorts’ newly-announced plan to allow the Varano Group to open a restaurant in the casino calls into question Wynn Resorts’ commitment to confronting sexual harassment in the workplace.

“This partnership amongst entities implicated in the #MeToo movement demonstrates that removing Wynn’s name was nothing short of window-dressing. Wynn Resorts apparently has no real commitment to addressing and remedying sexual harassment in the workplace. Instead of coming out in front of the #MeToo movement, the casino is now showcasing its partnership with another bad actor,” said Sophia Hall, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, a civil rights organization that represents low-wage workers who have experienced sexual harassment, including the woman subjected to harassment at Strega.

In the September 2017 ruling, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found Strega Restaurant and the Varano Group (Strega’s owner) liable for subjecting an employee to a sexually hostile work environment. The MCAD found that sexual comments directed at the low-wage Latina worker were “pervasive,” “demeaning and humiliating,” and “intimidating.” The MCAD ordered Strega to “cease and desist” from any actions that create a sexually hostile work environment, to institute a training program for its managers, and to implement a formal sexual harassment policy.  Strega has refused to comply.

Attorney Hall stated that the Lawyers’ Committee planned to forward the MCAD decision to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and ask that it consider Wynn Resorts’ planned partnership with the Varano Group as part of the Commission’s ongoing investigation of Wynn Resorts’ handling of sexual harassment matters.  “The Gaming Commission should absolutely take a look at this planned partnership.  If Wynn Resorts engages the Varano Group, that would be a clear indication that they have no real commitment to standing against sexual harassment,” noted Attorney Hall.