Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed legislation Tuesday expanding workplace safety protections for hotel and casino employees and shielding businesses that follow health directives from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Nevada officials say the state has become the first in the US model by outlining these specific protections.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) welcomed the signage of Senate Bill 4 into law. “The AGA and our members applaud the bipartisan effort by the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sisolak to protect all businesses by limiting exposure to potential COVID-related lawsuits. This allows our members to focus on what’s most needed right now: sustained economic and community recovery,” said AGA’s President and CEO Bill Miller in a statement.
“While we have worked diligently to safely reopen our doors and welcome our team members back to work, we remain concerned that already-suffering gaming businesses will be forced to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits. Capacity restrictions and significant safety expenditures are already taking their toll. This bill helps to mitigate the costs of burdensome litigation that will ultimately affect state and local taxes and jobs,” Miller added.
The AGA joined a coalition of nearly 500 business organizations in calling on Congress to promptly address the liability issue at a national level. “This is truly a national crisis. It is incumbent upon Congress and the administration to follow Nevada’s leadership and enact timely, targeted, and temporary liability relief provisions to safeguard responsible actors against frivolous lawsuits. This protection is essential for businesses to continue to contribute to a safe and effective economic recovery from the pandemic,” AGA’s CEO concluded.
MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the new law protects Nevada's largest economic engine, and that it offered an example to Congress, which is debating similar liability protections. “Nevada managed to score a win-win that both protects workers and the public, while also providing protection and certainty to responsible businesses that the economy can continue growing and desperately needed jobs can be refilled,” he said, as reported by Las Vegas Sun.
The law's worker protection provisions mirror a proposal put forth by the Culinary Union Local 226 in honor of Adolfo Fernandez, a Caesars Palace porter who died from COVID-19 complications in late June after casinos reopened following a three-month shutdown. It requires health officials in Clark and Washoe counties to mandate that casinos, resorts and hotels offer testing and time off to employees exposed to coronavirus in the Reno and Las Vegas areas, and sets baseline cleaning standards for bars, hotel rooms, restrooms and elevators.
The law comes a month after MGM Resorts International and the Culinary Union Local 226 agreed to drop MGM Resorts from a federal lawsuit and enter talks about safety concerns.