NJ casino tries to stay fresh with tenure limit

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - December 14, 2011

And a policy the casino is implementing will probably keep it that way.

Applicants are being told they will only have jobs for as little as four years at a time, after which they will have to re-apply. That means competing with younger, fresher faces - a requirement that has never been made before in the 33-year history of casino gambling in Atlantic City.

Revel says it is crucial that employees who most often come into contact with guests put the best possible face on the organization.

"The defined-term roles are the most critical in the entertainment and hospitality business, and their engagement with our guests will help define us," Revel said Wednesday in a statement. "We want to ensure that these high profile professionals are always engaged with our guests."

Under the policy, first reported by The Press of Atlantic City, jobs subject to term limits of four to six years include dealers, valets, cocktail servers, bartenders and front desk clerks.

The casino says it will recruit for supervisory positions from among those workers and will encourage advancement through the ranks. At the end of the job term, any employee who has not been promoted will have to re-apply for the same job and compete with all other comers.

That, the city's main casino union says, will have the effect of purging the work force of all but the youngest, most attractive faces.

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of UNITE HERE, said Revel is trashing an unwritten Atlantic City rule that casino jobs are to be long-term employment meant to provide a decent standard of living.

"They're treating their workers like baseball players, but paying them like hot dog vendors," McDevitt said. "These are supposed to be good, stable jobs, not indentured servitude. But they're treating them like pitchers at spring training, who can be cut at any time. Thanks, but you're outta here. See ya." McDevitt says the casino is engaging in blatant age discrimination - something the casino denies.

Its job applications don't mention age.

An online application form at Revel's website says a cocktail server "is responsible for providing prompt, friendly and efficient cocktail service." It calls the position "a defined-service cycle role with an employment period of 4, 5 or 6 years."

The cutthroat environment in which Atlantic City's 11 casinos are operating (12 after Revel opens) is making them look for any potential advantage over rivals.

In the past four years, Atlantic City's collective casino revenues have fallen from $5.2 billion to $3.6 billion, with a further decline to come at the end of this year. The casinos have shed thousands of jobs, and are concerned with making sure the remaining workers present as appealing an image to customers as possible.

Pressures on Atlantic City cocktail servers are nothing new. When the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003, it limited how much its cocktail servers, dubbed "Borgata Babes," could weigh. Servers who gain too much weight could be fired.

In 2008, two former cocktail servers at the Borgata settled a multimillion-dollar sex discrimination lawsuit against the casino. They claimed the casino humiliated costumed waitresses by encouraging breast augmentation surgery and emphasizing weight and looks over job performance. A Borgata spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The low-cut flapper dresses that female beverage servers at Resorts Casino Hotel have to wear generated three lawsuits from older women who say they were fired for being judged insufficiently sexy. The casino denies it discriminated against anyone.

Las Vegas casinos generally do not impose time limits on entire classifications of workers.

Revel says its new $2.4 billion casino will jump-start the sluggish local economy.

"These jobs are a great way to join our organization and we feel that many professionals will choose to further their careers by advancing into one of thousands of full-time or part-time positions within the resort," the casino said in its statement.

"We feel Revel will attract the most highly professional people who are inspired by a highly competitive work environment," the statement continued. "Revel will be an attractive and competitive professional option here both in opportunity and compensation."

UNITE HERE has bitterly fought with Revel, opposing a state tax break on the grounds that the mega-resort could put two or more existing casinos out of business. Gov. Chris Christie has committed $261 million in state tax credits to help Revel once it's open.

"How do those politicians in Atlantic City and Trenton, who rammed this though, feel about sinking a quarter-billion dollars into Revel now that they see that this is how they treat their workers?" McDevitt asked.

A spokesman for Christie did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Copyright © 2024 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.