In most cases, allegations of workplace sexual harassment lead to a sort of ”circling of the wagons.” The subject of the allegations drops out of the public eye and is kept away from employees while the company determines possible courses of action. Statements are issued reaffirming the company’s commitment to safe and respectful workplaces. It’s a dance that has played out in the public eye more times than one would hope necessary in the modern work environment.
Wynn Resorts, however, appears to have a different strategy. As detailed in a new class action lawsuit filed against the company, women who have accused Steve Wynn; its former chairman and CEO, of inappropriate behavior continue to face a hostile work environment even though Wynn has been replaced in those roles.
The allegations are severe and tell the story of a company who went to extraordinary lengths to keep Wynn’s misconduct out of the news cycle. High-ranking executives including presidential and vice-presidential leadership implied the certainty of retaliation for speaking out and that “Wynn Resorts did not want them to tell the media the truth about Steve Wynn misconduct and the years of cover up.” The lawsuit goes on to claim that the women continued to live “in fear of being chosen (again) by Steve Wynn to be his sexual prey.”
In a particularly unnerving twist, the plaintiffs also assert that they were outed for filing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints against Wynn Resorts by the commission itself. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “the lawsuit states the EEOC may have entered into a secret agreement with Wynn Resorts that offered no compensation for past discrimination and retaliation and ‘allowed Wynn Resorts to escape the usual disclosures required of employers.’”
The EEOC is a federal agency that was created to monitor and enforce civil rights laws as they pertain to workplace discrimination. The agency’s site makes no promise of an accuser remaining anonymous once a charge is filed, however, the same page is used to make clear that retaliation for making such a charge is a serious matter and can result in such retaliation being added to an EEOC case. By removing any penalties for Wynn Resorts’ prior behavior, we are now faced with the prospect of a watchdog federal agency being complicit in the sexual harassment of American employees.