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Guilty of ‘Maliciously’ Firing Workers : Hilton Loses at the Blackjack Tables

From Associated Press

A federal jury ruled today that the Las Vegas Hilton acted “maliciously and wantonly” in firing 37 casino workers after a 1983 period of low winnings in the casino’s blackjack pit.

Jurors found the Hilton guilty of age and sex discrimination, breach of contract, bad faith and inflicting severe emotional distress on the fired workers.

The verdict was reached after four days of deliberation in a civil trial that lasted 14 weeks before U.S. District Judge Roger Foley.

The jury also ruled that the Hilton must pay punitive damages for its actions in firing the workers, a decision that could cost the resort millions of dollars. Attorneys for the dealers had sought nearly $50 million in actual and punitive damages.

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The casino dealers and floor men were fired in September, 1983, after the Hilton’s casino went through several months with a low win percentage in the blackjack pit.

The dealers claim they were the victims of age and sex discrimination when they were replaced by younger and mostly female workers.

Hilton officials contended, however, that mass firings are part of the casino industry, where job security is traded for the reward of high earnings.

The case was closely watched by the casino industry, which has always relied on the right to hire and fire at will.

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