District Court Issues Another Win for Hourly Workers in “Tipped Employee” Litigation Against Casinos 


Stueve Siegel Hanson and McClelland Law Firm have secured another order in District Court conditionally certifying a first-of-its-kind tip pooling claim across a number of casinos and granting class and conditional certification of claims targeting wage deductions for gaming license fees. This is the second conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims obtained by the firms in a matter of weeks on behalf of minimum wage and tipped employees against two of the largest casino operators in the country.

On March 12, 2021, Judge Gary A. Fenner, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Missouri, issued an Order in Lockett v. Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. that found:

  • Table games dealers at 10 Pinnacle casinos (now owned by Penn National Gaming) were similarly situated and could pursue their claims together because they had presented sufficient evidence to “show Defendants have a common policy that allegedly resulted in the use of dealers’ pooled tips to pay for dual-rate employees’ PTO hours earned while working in a supervisory capacity”;
  • All hourly employees earning $7.25 per less working at eight Pinnacle casinos could collectively pursue their claims based on Defendants’ policy of making these employees pay for costs associated with gaming licenses; and
  • Class certification was appropriate for three classes of employees at River City casino outside St. Louis, Missouri and the Ameristar casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa to pursue their gaming license wage deduction claims.

The Court’s Order, available in full here, will allow these minimum wage and tipped employees working for Pinnacle in seven different states to band together to vindicate their wage and hour rights.

This Order follows another favorable decision secured by Stueve Siegel Hanson and McClelland Law Firm in similar litigation. On March 2, 2021, Judge Daniel D. Crabtree, U.S. District Judge for the District of Kansas, conditionally certified two Fair Labor Standards Act claims — failure to provide notice of the FLSA’s tip credit requirements and unlawful tip pooling — in a lawsuit against casino operator Boyd Gaming Corporation.

That decision’s impact spans 13 Boyd Gaming casinos and will allow upwards of 8,000 tipped casino workers across the country to band together in one case to vindicate their minimum wage rights. 

George Hanson, Todd McGuire and Alexander Ricke of Stueve Siegel Hanson are representing the plaintiffs in both cases. Click here to learn more about the firm’s experience advocating for tipped employees.

These cases are part of a larger effort by Stueve Siegel Hanson and McClelland Law Firm to enforce federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws at casinos around the country on behalf of hourly employees who are typically paid less than the federal minimum wage due to the FLSA’s tip-related exceptions.

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