A former executive at Harrah’s Resort Southern California has filed a lawsuit against Caesars Entertainment Inc., claiming that he was forced to resign after management ignored his concerns that the decision to reopen the casino was dangerous and could expose clients to the COVID-19 virus.
Former top officer Darrell Pilant alleges that the company’s decision to reopen last May caused “serious adverse health and safety consequences involving employees and customers contracting COVID-19. Pilant worked as the Valley Center casino’s general manager and senior vice-president but resigned one day before the reopening of Harrah’s after it was shut down by the pandemic.
In his lawsuit, which was filed before the San Diego Superior Court on Monday, Pilant says that he was repeatedly assured that the county was “on board” with the reopening. Despite voicing his concerns to the management, he stated that the company gave him an “illegal and dangerous” directive to reopen the casino in May.
Pilant argued that he was “constructively terminated” and under his contract, he is eligible for severance equal to one year of his salary. Aside from that, he is also suing for several damages. Pilant resigned on May 21, or one day before the casino reopened to the public.
He worked for nearly 23 years with the company and held several positions in other states before coming to Harrah’s South California in 2011. In 2016, he was promoted to general manager and oversaw all casino operations. Pilant also served on the community board of the San Diego Food Bank and Palomar Health Foundation.
217 COVID-19 Patients Visited Casinos
The San Diego County confirmed that a total fo 217 COVID-19 local patients reported being at a local casino within two weeks of falling ill to the virus. Twelve of them were hospitalized while one, a casino patron, already died.
The 217 cases are tied to seven of the county’s nine tribal casinos and they involve 76 employees and 141 guests. Country spokeswoman Sarah Sweeney noted that even though those who tested positive visited a casino during the period where they were potentially infected, it doesn’t mean that they caught the virus there.
The country has refused to name the specific businesses and casinos where the local transmissions occurred. Like other casinos, the reopening of Harrah’s included health and safety measures that include social distancing, wearing of face masks, and limited operating capacity.