3,200 to lose jobs due to coronavirus closures

LAS VEGAS – Four days before closing nine hotel-casinos along the Las Vegas Strip to slow the spread of COVID-19, Caesars Entertainment notified state officials that 3,200 workers would lose their jobs, according to documents obtained by the Reno-Gazette Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. 

In a March 14 letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, the company announced the cuts would happen the following day.

“Given the unknown certainty surrounding COVID-19,” wrote Servando Lara, Caesars’ director of labor relations, “we are unable to make a determination as to whether the layoff will be temporary or permanent.”

One day after the letter arrived, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered that all non-essential businesses across the state shut down to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered that all non-essential businesses across the state shut down to arrest the spread of COVID-19. This includes several businesses on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Caesars reductions included employees at Planet Hollywood, Paris, Caesars Palace, Harrahs, Flamingo, Bally’s, The Cromwell Hotel, Linq Hotel and Rio. 

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, companies must give the state notice at least 60 days in advance, but COVID-19 spread triggered financial fallout too rapidly to comply, according to the letter.

“The layoff is the result of an unforeseeable circumstance,” Lara wrote.

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The letter to Nevada’s employment department shows the inner workings of a company blindsided and battered by the coronavirus travel fallout – one of many businesses now cutting thousands of workers to keep financials afloat.

New weekly claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Nevada surged to 93,036 last week following the closure of the state’s casinos and other non-essential businesses. In the middle of the recession, Nevada peaked at about 8,900 weekly unemployment claims.

The latest numbers from the Department of Labor indicate an increase of nearly 1,364% – a more than fourteenfold spike from the previous week’s 6,356 new claims.

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The deluge of people applying for unemployment benefits has inundated the state’s system.

At this time in 2019, Clark County had 13,635 weekly unemployment claims. As of Friday, there were 41,549 – an increase of 205%.

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Contributing: Jason Hidalgo, Anjeanette Damon, Reno Gazette-Journal

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