Boost for Laid-Off Casino Workers as Nevada Senate Committee Passes Right to Return Bill

  • SB 386 gives laid-off gaming and hospitality workers the right to return to their former jobs
  • Bill passed less than a week before Nevada’s legislative session was due to close
  • Ex-employees now have 24 hours to accept a job offer and be ready to work five days later
  • Motion passed with a split vote because the bill does not require a two-thirds majority
  • Nevada Resort Association’s official stance was neutral, neither supporting nor opposing the bill
Nevada State Senate building facade
With less than a week to go before the state’s legislative session was due to close, a Nevada Senate committee passed the Right to Return bill, giving ex-workers the right to return to their former jobs. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update June 8, 2021: Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has signed off on the amended SB 386.

The Democratic Assembly in Nevada voted in favor of the bill on May 30. The bill then awaited a final vote in the Senate over an amendment exempting small business operators in casino resorts from the hiring requirements of the legislation.

Gaming and union negotiators agree to bill tweaks

At a meeting of the Nevada Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, lawmakers passed the amended ‘Right to Return’ Senate Bill 386 on a split vote.

Tuesday’s fast-tracked move to pass the legislation – which gives laid-off gaming and hospitality workers the right to return to their former jobs – came as gaming and culinary union negotiators agreed to certain amendments.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the vocal Culinary Union took to Twitter to call on the state legislature to pass the bill:

The passing of SB 386 signals a win for union-supported workers who took to the streets last week to voice their demands. With under a week to go before Nevada’s 120-day legislative session wraps up, the 11th-hour passing of the bill comes as a relief to all involved parties.

various bodies working together in “recognition of the greater good”

According to the Nevada Independent, bill sponsor and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) said consensus on the headline-grabbing legislation was a result of various bodies working together in “recognition of the greater good.”

The new-look SB 386

Before Tuesday’s tweaks, SB 386 required employers who declined to call back ex-workers because they lacked qualifications, and then hiring new people, to provide the said ex-workers with reasons in writing for being passed over within 30 days of the decision.

The new-look bill now limits the callback criteria. It covers employees only if they accept or turn down the job offer within 24 hours – trimmed down from the previous ten-day window – and are ready to work within five days of receiving an offer.

The revised bill also gave employers extra elbow room. Businesses are now under no obligation to re-hire workers who turn down job offers three times within a minimum six-week time frame. Also taken into consideration are smaller businesses. Restricted gaming operators with 15 or fewer slot machines, such as bars and taverns, are exempt.

In an interview ahead of the live-streamed one-hour-13-minute Senate meeting and vote, Cannizzaro said she hoped the bill would get bipartisan support because it “has a lot of buy-in.” The bill passed even though several Republican senators on the committee queried sections of it, with the split vote being enough to carry the motion forward as the bill does not require a two-thirds majority.

Nevada Resort Association on the fence

As unions and their jobless members picketed outside the Nevada statehouse last week, the Nevada Resort Association warned in a statement that the Right to Return bill would have adverse effects on the state’s post-pandemic recovery.

According to the Independent, the Right to Return legislation covers staff laid off after March 12, 2020, “who were employed for at least six months in the year prior to the governor’s first COVID-19 emergency declaration.”

Following Tuesday’s revisions, Bob Ostrovsky, a lobbyist representing the association said its stance was officially “neutral”, promising not to support or oppose the bill.  

the industry is currently 66,000 casino resort employees shy of its pre-pandemic high

Ostrovsky said that while he estimated that the industry is currently 66,000 casino resort employees shy of its pre-pandemic high, only about 70% of the casino’s pre-outbreak workforce would return to their former employment.

Underlining the importance of experienced and dedicated staff, Ostrovsky added: “It’s one thing to build a billion-dollar building. To operate it, you really need a well-honed team.”