Tesfagiorgis reveals all
A luxury casino in Mayfair, London allowed its high-roller millionaire clients to racially abuse staff, according to claims made to an employment tribunal this week.
Semhar Tesfagiorgis, a former worker of Crown London Aspinalls casino, addressed the tribunal on Thursday. Her representative law firm, Cole Khan Solicitors LLP, tweeted about the case later that day:
Tesfagiorgis claimed that various casino patrons used racial slurs towards her and black colleagues without impunity. These included the terms “stupid black girl”, “blackie”, and the N-word. Not only did the casino fail to bar patrons who used such language, but Tesfagiorgis also alleged that it segregated black staff from players who made specific requests for white dealers.
“stupid black girl”, “blackie”, and the N-word
The former employee said that efforts to report any racism or sexism proved fruitless. “My experience has continuously been one of gaslighting and excuses made on behalf of the patrons in an attempt to dumb down their offensive and unlawful conduct,” she told the tribunal.
A long list of offences
Tesfagiorgis first made her allegations against the Crown Resorts-owned Aspinalls casino last year. As reported by The Times, she filed a claim with the London employment tribunal accusing the members-only club of race and sex discrimination, indirect sex discrimination, harassment, and victimization. Tesfagiorgis gave evidence towards that claim on Thursday.
The first such instance occurred in 2007 when a wealthy player allegedly called Tesfagiorgis and one of her fellow employees, Fiona Esoko, by the N-word. The casino rejected requests to bar the patron and removed both Tesfagiorgis and Esoko from the gaming floor. When the same player returned two years later using the same racist language, the casino again failed to reprimand the patron and replaced the dealer with a white member of staff.
prolonged campaign of discrimination and microaggressions”
Tesfagiorgis also noted more recent cases of discrimination. In 2015, she claimed the casino denied her requests for a shift swap because a patron had asked for “white female dealers only.” Likewise, the casino segregated Tesfagiorgis and another colleague from a gambler in 2019 for the same reason. The applicant described her treatment by the casino as a “prolonged campaign of discrimination and microaggressions.”
In response, Aspinalls argued that it had taken action against the patron mentioned in the 2007 and 2009 incidents, banning the gambler from the casino in 2009. It refuted that the 2015 shift swap denial related to discrimination, instead arguing that the patron preferred dealers “who did not interact with him.” However, the casino confessed that the 2019 incident did take place due to an “error of judgement.”
Other casino racism allegations
This is not the first case in which a casino has stood accused of racial discrimination. A number of gambling venues in other areas of the world have seen similar claims over recent years.
- In May 2019, rapper Meek Mill accused the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas of being “racist as hell.” The casino-hotel barred Mill from entering the property when he arrived for a concert. He dropped plans to sue after receiving an apology later that year.
- Aspinalls owner Crown Resorts has faced another allegation of discrimination in the past. Australian NBA player Ben Simmons claimed Crown Melbourne denied him entry due to racial profiling in 2019. The casino denied the claims, arguing that it asked for identification due to the patron’s age.
- More recently, a man jailed for an attack on two casino patrons in Illinois filed a $10m lawsuit against Harrah’s Joliet Hotel and Casino alleging racial abuse this year. The plaintiff contended that he was the victim in the racially motivated incident and only acted in self defense.