New Pittsburgh-region casino retaliation claim filed
Ex-Rivers worker says Nemacolin retaliates over her allegations
June 27, 2013 4:00 AM
Sharon Baughman, with her lawyer, Joseph Hornack, at his office on Wednesday.
By Rich Lord Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A week after Sharon Baughman sued the Rivers Casino alleging that she was fired for complaining about harassment, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort rescinded an offer to hire her.
Coincidence? Ms. Baughman, 56, of Uniontown, Fayette County, thinks not, and claimed as much in filings with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday. She and her attorney, Joseph Hornack, are making the unusual argument that one employer illegally retaliated against her because of allegations she made against another.
"Because she opposed a practice at Rivers that she considered to be an unlawful employment practice, Nemacolin terminated her employment before it started," Mr. Hornack said.
Ms. Baughman, a former insurance industry pro, has followed the casino industry's growth in the region, starting as a security officer at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in 2007, then moving to Rivers in 2009 to become a security supervisor.
Casino work, she said, "was something different in my position every day. ... People are actually cheating, taking vouchers, taking purses. You're investigating, getting both sides of the story."
In 2011, she was promoted to security manager for the evening shift at Rivers. She said she ran into resistance from some male underlings, including warnings that they were "going to gun [her] down."
When she complained, according to her lawsuit, bosses gave her an impossible "action plan," and then fired her when she could not complete it.
As her unemployment benefits ran out, she took a management job at a casino near Baltimore. That entailed driving back to Uniontown every weekend to be with her ailing husband, and after a year she quit to be closer to home.
Fortunately, Nemacolin was hiring for its Lady Luck Casino, which opens Monday. She applied, disclosing repeatedly that she was fired from Rivers, she said.
On May 21, she said, she got an offer to work at Nemacolin as a "guest experience expert" effective June 10.
"I was excited," she said, despite the fact that she was to make roughly half as much as she had in Maryland. "I was just so glad to be back home."
Nine days later, she sued Rivers.
On June 7, Ms. Baughman said, she was summoned to Nemacolin by a human resources manager, Stephanie Miller.
"She said, 'It's about the Rivers Casino,' " Ms. Baughman said. "She said I should've given more information as to the details of why I was terminated."
Ms. Baughman said Ms. Miller repeatedly left the room, without explanation, during a lengthy grilling about her experience at Rivers.
"She said, 'We can't have you here,' " Ms. Baughman recounted. " 'We feel that you gave us misleading information, so you can't work here.' "
Mr. Hornack said he asked Nemacolin to reconsider that decision, but the casino declined.
He said the EEOC bars employers from retaliating against former employees, and from retaliating based on an employee's efforts to blow the whistle against a former employer. He is asking the EEOC to investigate whether Rivers and Nemacolin violated the law in the run-up to the former's decision to rescind its offer to Ms. Baughman.
Spokesmen for Rivers and Nemacolin declined to comment.