Gov. Steve Sisolak is replacing Gaming Control Board chairwoman Becky Harris, who led the board through the formation of proposed rules to reign in sexual harassment in the casino industry. Sandra Douglass Morgan, who was recently appointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission by Sisolak’s predecessor, Brian Sandoval, will take the helm of the Control Board.
Douglass Morgan’s LinkedIn profile says she’s responsible for “AT&T’s legislative and community affairs activities in southern Nevada.” She previously defended MGM Resorts International against workers comp claims and personal injury cases, her profile says.
Workers in Nevada file more sexual harassment claims than those in any other state, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The regulation proposed by the Gaming Control Board would have required casinos to report the number of sexual harassment complaints filed each month.
The Nevada Gaming Commission has refused to consider the proposed regulations, citing the investigation of former gaming mogul Steve Wynn as a reason to delay instituting measures designed to protect the industry’s employees and customers.
Then-Governor-elect Sisolak recently echoed Sandoval in calling for the Nevada Gaming Commission to act on the proposed regulations, which are opposed by some companies, according to sources.
Last month, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and Palazzo, declined to say whether it supports the proposed sexual harassment regulations.
A story published Wednesday in the Columbia Journalism Review recounts incidents of sexual harassment at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper owned by Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson.
Sisolak’s spokeswoman, Christina Amestoy, declined to answer when asked today whether the governor still supports the Gaming Commission taking up the proposed regulations.
“I was notified this morning,” Harris told the Current of her dismissal as chairwoman, adding she would have liked to stay on. “It would have been a wonderful opportunity to remain.”
Harris says she is hopeful the proposed sexual harassment rules will be pursued in her absence.
“I believe that they will. I hope that they will,” she said.
Harris, who resigned from the State Senate to take the post as Gaming Control Board chairwoman, says she has no regrets.
“No, absolutely not. Knowing what I know now I would do it all over again,” she said. “It was phenomenal to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity. I know Sandra will do a phenomenal job as chair. I wouldn’t change a single minute.”
Harris says she’s not sure whether she’ll pursue public service.
“I’m going to see where my next opportunity leads me,” noting she has a one-year cooling off period that would prevent her from joining a gaming company.
The replacement of Harris comes as Sisolak follows up his first act as governor — creating a task force to study sexual harassment policy and law — with an order to gaming and marijuana licensees to submit their sexual harassment and discrimination policies to the state. The order says addressing sexual harassment is a “day 1 priority” for the governor.
Casino and marijuana operations are privileged licenses regulated by the state. The gaming industry employees more than 166,000 Nevadans. The cannabis industry employs approximately 6,700 workers in the state.
Sisolak’s office also won’t say why marijuana is included but other regulated industries are excluded from the directive.
“Nevada’s marijuana and gaming industries, which operate under privileged licenses, have contributed tremendously to the economic wellbeing of our residents, and we look forward to working with them to ensure they maintain workplaces free of sexual harassment and discrimination,” Sisolak said in a news release.
Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association, says he doesn’t know why Sisolak chose the cannabis and gaming industries, other than both are regulated by the state.
“I’m not sure I understand that dynamic,” Jolley said. “The industry is new to Nevada and growing quickly and certainly has been the subject of interest from the public and media.”
“I think that the marijuana industry is no different than any other industry. Sexual harassment can be, and too often is, an issue,” he says. “I applaud his leadership and attention to the matter and I hope this focus is not applied strictly to casinos and marijuana businesses but to government and all of the private sector.”