Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Bike contests a prop's unemployment claim

Back on December 1, 2010, I was informed by the Bicycle Casino that they were eliminating my position as a host/prop for the $500 NL games. They told me I could choose either to become a prop in the $2 green chip section (where they play games like 8-16 limit and $80 buyin NL holdem) or be laid off. They gave me a sheet to sign that looked something like the following, except instead of the second option being "I choose to be laid off," it said something like "I prefer to quit," which might have imade it difficult for me to collect unemployment insurance payments. When I decided to "choose to be laid off," I was a little worried that I wouldn't get my benefits, but everything worked out fine.
I signed this form after HR agreed to rephrase the "laid off" option. (I removed my ID#.)

I'm bringing this up now because recently one of my former fellow props asked me if I still had this document. Back in December 2010, he and another prop opted to take the pay cut rather than be laid off. He was assured, as I was, that if he took this option he could continue to play the $5 yellow chip games in the Plaza section, even though his position would officially be as a prop for the smaller games in the Royal Section. Unlike me, he trusted them to honor this promise. I thought they would allow it for only a month or two, but as it happens, they actually honored it for over a year. Then they told him and the other prop that they had to start working in the Royal Section after all. He refused this role change and quit. The Bike then contested his application for unemployment insurance payments, claiming that he had quit and was not laid off. According to him, the Bike also claimed that the above document had never been offered. That's why he asked me if I had it.

As you can see, I did have a photo of the memo. It seemed prudent to have a copy for myself in case I had any trouble getting my unemployment benefits. I had several reasons not to consider the casino particularly trustworthy. These include several minor broken promises, rumors of illicit business dealings such as accepting kick-backs on overpriced renovation projects, and a clear disrespect for the props by some of the middle managers. Also, they routinely changed the expectations of our roles in minor ways without consulting us and sometimes without even informing us. In any case, if I was to be leaving, they wouldn't have any particular interest in doing me any favors. I had a chat with an employment lawyer who said it was best for me not to sign anything but that the above document sounded okay. I signed it and had no problem getting my benefits.

In the end, the prop won the case against the Bike, and he will be getting his unemployment benefits. I don't know what the ruling hinged upon exactly, but I guess it was that his agreed-upon role at the casino had been altered significantly enough to be considered an elimination of the position on the part of the casino.


The big news today is that PokerStars has acquired Full Tilt as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice over last year's charges of fraud. It looks like foreign players will be getting their money back, but U.S. players' accounts remain in limbo.

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