With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people who worked in the hospitality industry in the state of Nevada were laid off. The economy was hit hard and it seemed that many may never get back to work, especially with hotels closed, low capacity rates in casinos, and tourism levels still at a low number. For employees, the fear was that they would not have a job once casinos were back in action.
Right now, lawmakers are reviewing SB386, a bill titled Right to Return. This measure gives employees in the travel industry, stadium, hospitality, and casino sectors the ability to return to work in their former positions. Earlier this week, the bill saw heavy testimony from laid-off workers who were emotional about returning to work. The bill has support from labor unions, while some casinos in Las Vegas are opposed to the idea.
A Need for Protection
In Las Vegas, events were canceled, travel restrictions put in place and casinos shut down when the pandemic began. It was at this time that a large number of employees were laid off due to the inability to work. As casinos began reopening, the hospitality industry had to scale back due to lower capacity levels and fewer amenities offered by operators.
Unfortunately for those in the hospitality industry, almost 200,000 people lost their jobs from March to May 2020. Those who are still unemployed want their jobs back and feel they should be able to return to the same position. Right to Return would make that happen.
Culinary Union member for 39 years and food worker in the state, Mario Sandoval, spoke during Wednesday’s hearing. He said he should not be replaced or abandoned as he has spent his life working for the company. He should not have to start his career over.
Others had similar sentiments. Some employees have had difficulty finding new work due to the limited options in the region or lack of qualifications, or even being too qualified.
Details of the Bill
The Right to Return measure applies to employees in the travel, stadium, casino, and hospitality sectors who were laid off after March 12, 2020. Individuals must have been an employee in these sectors for six months or more in the year prior to the emergency shutdown last year.
Nicole Cannizzaro is the Senate Majority Leader who presented the bill. She spoke of her parents during the hearing and how they were part of the Culinary Union. Her mom was a waitress and her father a bartender, both members of the Culinary Union 226. She understands how the employees in the industry were affected by the pandemic and how they rely on their job to survive.
If the measure is passed into law, employers would have to offer the laid-off employees a job they are qualified for. Employees who are not hired back will need to hear from their employer as to why they were not offered a job within 30 days of the decision.
Those opposed to the bill include Caesars Entertainment and Boyd Gaming Corporation. They argue that a provision of the bill would bring about unnecessary litigation, allowing employees to bring civil suits against them if they fail to comply with the requirements of the measure.