|By Arnold M. Knightly, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Mar. 3, 2007 - A longtime casino slot employee has been fired after comments he made about customers during the four-day NBA All-Star Weekend appeared in the Review-Journal.
Bruce Schowers, who has worked in the casino industry for nearly 30 years, was fired Monday from his position as a slot floor person at the New Frontier.
"I thought they might suspend me for a week for opening my mouth when I shouldn't have," Schowers said. "It didn't work out that way."
He added that the "only mistake I made was saying where I worked."
With his 16-year-old son in need of epilepsy medication and his wife collecting Social Security disability, he said his main concern is finding another job in the casino industry with good insurance.
"I have a little bit in my savings, but I still have to work," Schowers, 55, said.
His termination from the New Frontier, where he had worked since 1995, came less than a week after comments attributed to him appeared in a Feb. 21 Review-Journal story under the headline "Event an All-Star gain -- or pain."
Mike Nelson, the New Frontier's human resources director, said on Friday he was not able to comment on a particular person's situation because of personnel confidentiality requirements.
Schowers said he believes his firing is proof that management is more concerned with the customers than the employees who are on the front line every day.
"Managers are always more concerned with the customer base," Schowers said. "If no one dies on their property, they're pretty much happy with everything that goes on. They have no way of knowing what we go though on a daily basis."
Schowers' comments were only three sentences in a front-page story discussing the effects the four-day weekend had on tourists, law enforcement and the tourist industry.
"They said people would be afraid to come to our casino because of what I said about the behavior of the people that were there," Schowers said about his conversation with the human resources personnel.
Schowers was quoted in the story along with Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, two tourists and spokesmen from an airline and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The casino veteran first sent a letter to the editor describing what he and co-workers had observed during the weekend. His letter was one of approximately 100 received by the Review-Journal, most of which were critical about the crowds and problems associated with the NBA All-Star events.
Although his letter did not run in the newspaper, he was called by the editorial department asking if he would be willing to talk about his experiences. He agreed and gave about a 15-minute phone interview.
In the story, he called the fans "the rudest bunch of people I've ever experienced."
There were a few instances of violence at the New Frontier and at least one instance of a customer showing a gun to a cocktail waitress, he said in the story.
"Some of the girls were afraid to wait on the crowd," Schowers also told the Review-Journal, adding that tipping "was practically nonexistent" that weekend.
Schowers said he was called at home on the day the story ran -- his off day -- and was told to meet with the human resources manager the next day when he came to work.
At that meeting, Schowers said he only disputed the accuracy of one item -- he said he only heard about the gun incident mentioned in the story. Schowers said the incident happened at another property.
He said he was told at the 30-minute meeting that he was neither allowed to talk to the media nor air his opinion about guests because it creates a bad image for the company.
"Well, the whole weekend put a bad image (on the city)," Schowers said he told management. "So I don't see how it negatively made the Frontier look."
After being suspended, he returned on Monday and was fired in a meeting that he said lasted two minutes.
His termination notice read, "Willful misconduct -- making false, vicious or profane statement about a customer or a guest, fellow employee or the company."
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