Golden Mardi Gras Casino hit with discrimination suit

A lawsuit filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Denver accuses the Golden Mardi Gras Casino of age and gender discrimination.

San Luis Obispo, California attorney Lisa Sahli filed the lawsuit on behalf of 12 former workers, including drink servers, blackjack dealers, and bankers, of the Black Hawk, Colorado casino. The suit names the venue’s parent company, Affinity Gaming LLC, as a defendant.

Ranging in age from 43 to 74, the former Golden Mardi Gras employees claim that when the company laid off 60 employees, most of them older and female, one month, and then the following month replaced them with less qualified and younger staff, they were discriminated against, The Denver Post reports.

Along with two other casinos in Black Hawk, Golden Mardi Gras was purchased by the Las Vegas-based Affinity Gaming in November 2012. Following the acquisition, all Golden Mardi Gras employees were required by the company to reapply for their jobs. Then in January 2013, 60 employees were laid off by the company, despite job ratings ranging from adequate to superior, the lawsuit reportedly states. The lawsuit goes on to state that the company then hired 59 younger employees a month later in February 2013, according to the news agency.

The dozen former employees of the casino are reportedly seeking unspecified compensation for punitive damages, lost wages, and pension benefits.

Twelve of the plaintiffs, nine of which were women, also included blackjack dealers, 60-year-old Kurt Arntsen, and 62-year-old John Roberts, both of whom were reportedly dedicated employees.

According to the news agency, the lawsuit also accuses the Mardi Gras of targeting older women, including former employee, 74-year-old Georgean LaBute, of gender discrimination. Additionally, the Black Hawk casino was accused of violating the Family Medical Leave Act by termination Annette Trujillo’s employment just two weeks after she had applied for a family leave to care for her father, who was reportedly suffering from bone cancer.

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The Denver Post reports that when the employees were fired by the manager of the casino, the explanations they were given included, “I don’t know why,” and “you are not what Affinity is looking for.”

Formerly known as Herbst Gaming and based in Paradise, Nevada, Affinity Gaming LLC operates five casinos in Nevada, three in Colorado, two in Missouri, and one in Iowa. The company is owned by private equity firm, Z Capital Partners, LL 7BALL C., the private equity management arm of Z Capital Group, LLC.