Company fined, but won’t lose licenses
The Wynn Resorts company has agreed to a discipline complaint and settlement with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in regard to its failures to act on matters of alleged sexual misconduct by former CEO Steve Wynn.
The agreement was first reported in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday morning.
While the action levied a large, still unspecified, financial penalty, it also indicated it would not seek to revoke or limit any of the company’s licenses to operate casinos in Las Vegas. That was something seen as a positive for the company in regard to the local Encore Boston Harbor casino slated to open in June.
Though the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has had a parallel investigation on the matter, Nevada was the first regulatory agency to reveal its report and take action on the sexual misconduct allegations. It was also the first time the Wynn company has publicly acknowledged that high-level executive turned a “blind eye” to alleged misdeeds by Steve Wynn.
That included, within the NGCB complaint, the allegations by a manicurist that she was raped by Steve Wynn and impregnated, something she is said in the complaint to have told several high-level managers, with none taking any action. Two other complaints of harassment or alleged forced sexual conduct are also detailed from two other women in the complaint.
Elaine Driscoll of the MGC said they are looking at the conclusions in Nevada. The MGC has completed its investigation into the matter, but has been barred legally by Steve Wynn from disclosing that investigation publicly. That case is still pending in a Nevada court.
“The MGC is closely reviewing the investigative conclusions issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board,” said Driscoll “We are committed to and actively engaged in resolving the litigation in Nevada. We remain eager to present our investigatory findings publicly as soon as possible.”
Wynn Resorts, in a statement after the release of the materials, said it had made numerous changes since the first reports of sexual misconduct surfaced in a Wall Street Journal report one year ago. It also said in agreeing to the settlement that if fell short in protecting employees.
“The completion of the NGCB’s investigation of the response of certain employees to allegations against our founder and previous CEO Steve Wynn is an important remedial step,” read the statement. “We have fully cooperated and been transparent with the Board in this in-depth investigation. We look forward to appearing before the Nevada Gaming Commission to review the settlement and establish the final resolution of the investigation.
“Upon learning of the extent of the allegations, the new leadership of Wynn Resorts took immediate actions to ensure an open and safe work environment for all employees and made dramatic changes at every level of key decision-making in the Company,” it continued. “As an example, any employee mentioned in the NGCB report who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against the company’s former chairman and did not investigate or report it is no longer with the company.”
The statement also said the company had gone through a rigorous self-examination over the last year – which included its own independent investigation and changes at all levels of the organization.
Philip G. Satre, Chairman of the Board of Wynn Resorts, said he has been impressed with the movement of the company on the issue since he come on last August.
“In my extensive experience working in the highly regulated gaming industry I have never seen a company take action that was as swift and comprehensive as the executive team at Wynn Resorts,” he said. “Much of that occurred before I joined the Board in August 2018, however I believe our board’s follow-up and reaction to the regulatory investigations has been just as thorough and decisive.”
Many locally had wondered if current CEO Matt Maddox might be implicated in any of the investigations, but he wasn’t named in the NGCB complaint as someone who ignored complaints about Steve Wynn. Those who were named are no longer with the company, and include Marc Schorr (former COO), Doreen Whennen (former VP of hotel operations), Arte Nathan (former human resources director). Others that are alleged to have ignored complaints were Stacie Michaels (former general counsel), Kevin Tourek (former general counsel), Kim Sinatra (former general counsel) and Maurice Wooden (former Las Vegas president).
The NGCB investigation was based on numerous taped interviews over the past year, much like that of the MGC investigation.
One of the top changes the company pointed to in bringing about quick change was appointing Maddox as the new CEO and executing a separation agreement with Steve Wynn – all only months after the allegations were made public in the newspaper.
Other changes detailed by the company included:
•Commenced a robust Board refreshment process and, as of today, the median tenure of our eight independent directors is now less than two years. In April 2018, the Board elected three new female directors, resulting in a Board that is now nearly 50 percent women. In August 2018, the Board elected Philip G. Satre as Vice Chairman and Richard Byrne as a Director. In November 2018, Mr. Satre succeeded D. Boone Wayson as Chairman.
•Any employee who was aware of allegations of sexual assault against Steve Wynn and did not investigate or report it is no longer with the company.
•Appointed Rose Huddleston, a seasoned human resources executive, to the newly created corporate position of Senior Vice President of Human Resources-North America.
•Refocused efforts on the company’s workplace culture by making it a priority for the company’s new Human Resources leadership.
•Launched enhanced Workplace Compliance and Prevention of Sexual Harassment training for all employees, designed and delivered by a third-party expert.
•Launched a new Paid Parental Leave program that provides six weeks of paid time off to new parents. •Launched a new annual Wynn Employee Foundation scholarship program, which has awarded ten $7,500 college scholarships to employees and their dependents