Casino Queen Inc. Faces Another Retaliation and Discrimination Lawsuit

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November 21, 2022

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(MILAN, Italy) — A long-time employee of an Illinois casino filed a federal lawsuit last month against his employer, alleging discrimination and other allegations. 

The case involves two parties: Casino Queen, an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in East St. Louis, and Gaylord Spells, who was employed as a lead security officer and would step into the role of a corporate security supervisor from time to time.

In his lawsuit, Spells claimed that an employee at Casino Queen unlawfully retaliated and discriminated against him based on his gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Spells claimed he had been let go from his position and suffered humiliation and embarrassment as a result. Moreover, he alleged that he suffered considerable damages because of Casino Queen’s discriminatory actions, which he said included the loss of back pay, lost employer benefits, emotional distress damages, and a denied opportunity for a promotion.

According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Illinois, Spells had a close relationship with his former colleagues, Latorya Johnson and Tyson Ruffin.

The main problem, Spells alleged in the suit, was that Johnson hid her pregnancy from Spells’ supervisor, Jennifer Kupinski.

The lawsuit states that Kupinski asked Spells to disclose why Johnson was taking a medical leave of absence, which she was quietly taking due to a “pregnancy-related medical condition.”

In addition to asking Spells, an internal company investigation found that Kupinski engaged in misconduct after she also asked Johnson on several occasions to disclose her medical condition, later sharing the reasons for the leave with other employees.

Shortly after the company determined Kupinski engaged in misconduct, Kupinski filed a sexual harassment claim against Spells. In the lawsuit, he noted she then sent him a text message that said, “Sorry but feeling hurt and had to play dirty.”

Casino Queen investigated Kupinski’s claim against Spells and determined he, too, had engaged in misconduct. As a result, Spells received a “last chance” warning, according to the lawsuit. 

In recent years, such lawsuits have become more common. In fact, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,  retaliation is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination in the federal sector and the most common discrimination finding in federal sector cases.

Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, explained that “every worker has the right to call attention to workplace safety and health issues without the fear of retaliation.”

Spells’ lawsuit is not the first time that Casino Queen has been at the center of discrimination and retaliation lawsuits. The casino has been fighting for years to defend its labor policies.

In 2007, a complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.  Twenty current and former employees of the Casino Queen alleged the business engaged in racial discrimination and retaliated against Black employees.

In particular, some employees claimed that they were employed at the casino and witnessed and experienced individual acts of harassment, discrimination, and a hostile environment on the part of Casino Queen.

Spells’ attorneys did not respond to The Click’s request for comment.

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