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Employee sues Penn National companies

Woman claims business took wages to pay license fees

YOUNGSTOWN — An employee of Penn National Gaming has sued the company, including the Hollywood Casino at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown, over wages.

Jessica Guerriero filed the suit in U.S. District Court, seeking compensation for policies that she says violate Ohio wage laws, the Ohio Constitution and other laws. The town where she lives was not provided in the lawsuit.

This is a class-action complaint filed on behalf of similarly situated Ohio employees currently or previously employed by the defendants, the suit states.

The suit, which also names Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway and Hollywood Casino Toledo as defendants, alleges that Penn National Gaming has been deducting money from employees’ wages to obtain, maintain and renew Ohio gaming licenses.

Multiple federal district courts have held that gaming licenses are “primarily for the benefit and convenience of employers, such as (Penn National)” and that “gaming license costs may not deducted from an employee’s wages to the extent that deductions bring the employee’s wages below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and the Ohio minimum wage ($8.30 in 2018, $8.55 in 2019, $8.70 in 2020, and $8.80 in 2021).”

Guerriero and others were employed by the defendants over the past three years, the suit states. Penn National is a Pennsylvania for-profit corporation conducting substantial business in Ohio, and has offices in Columbus, the suit states.

The suit alleges that the defendants have deducted from Guerriero’s wages and the wages of other similarly situated employees “the costs of the license, approximately $15.” It does not state whether that is per pay, per week, per month or per year. A call to the lawyer who filed the suit and one to Penn National was not returned Wednesday afternoon.

The suit alleges Penn National took a deduction from employee wages “for any amount associated with initially or thereafter renewing a gaming license.”

It alleges there were times when employees of Penn National were not paid at a minimum wage, harming those employees. The suit seeks to have the court certify the complaint as a class action and to enter a judgment against the defendants and award Guerriero and others damages “for unpaid minimum wages” owed.

The suit was filed by Hans Hilges and Shannon Draher of Nilges Draher LLC of Massillon.

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