Churchill Downs employees claim they were fired for gambling on the job

Michelle Massey Dec. 14, 2010, 2:22am

Several former employees of a New Orleans gaming facility have filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that they unfairly lost their jobs for gambling on the job.

James Pollard, Leslie Hill, Consuella Russell and Patricia Dantzler on behalf of Otis Dantzler filed suit against Church Downs Louisiana Horseracing Co. and Churchill Downs Inc. on Dec. 8 in federal court in New Orleans.

The former employees state that they were terminated following a sting operation in which the defendant discovered that they were making wagers while working in violation of company rules and policies.

The petitioners state that their employee handbook specifically states, "all other employees at the race track my wager during their working hours." Further, they argue that gaming while on work time was openly and explicitly permitted by the defendant's previous president and other executives, who would also make wagers during work time.

According to the lawsuit, Pollard, Hill, Russell and Dantzler were the only employees terminated for alleged gaming violations during the sting operation, although there were white employees engaging in the same activities. They argue racial discrimination and that their termination was pretextual.

Pollard and Russell accuse the defendants of failing to pay for their time they worked during their non-paid lunch breaks.

The defendants are accused of violating the petitioners' civil rights, the Fair Labor and Standards Act, Louisiana Employment Discrimination statutes and the Louisiana's Whistleblower statute.

The former employees are asking for an award of damages, attorney's fees, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Metairie attorney Bryce G. Murray. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan is assigned to the case.

Case no. 2:10-cv-04484

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