Hmong dealers file lawsuits against Club One Casino

FRESNO, Calif.

According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, the discrimination against Asian and older employees began three years ago, when Club One Casino came under new management. They claim the casino began changing its image, and Hmong dealers and workers older than 40, no longer fit in.

Former employee, Bee Vang said, "Going in to work every day being afraid of losing your job is very stressful."

The day Bee Vang long feared came last December, when he was fired from Club One Casino after working there as a dealer for ten years. "I was wrongfully fired because I spoke out about Club One's discrimination."

Vang is one of 22 former and current Club One employees who have filed two lawsuits against the casino, charging that Club One discriminated against its Asian poker dealers and illegally fired older employees.

Attorney, Justin Ma said, "Without any notice, Club One Casino cut the work hours for 25 Asian-American workers -- all on the same day, reducing their work hours from five days a week to one or two days a week."

The lawsuits were filed Monday on behalf of the employees by a Los Angeles based non-profit civil rights agency. Its attorneys claim the discrimination began when the casino was acquired by Kyle Kirkland. "Under Kirklands management, club one casino had a new image and it treated any employee who didn't fit into that image as a second class citizen."

Some former Asian employees say they were replaced by white dealers during celebrity tournaments, and were retaliated against when they complained.

67-year-old Toney Johnson says he was fired after seven years as a floor manager, and has been unable to find work since then. "But now with the economy the way it is, it's hard to get a job without good credit."

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center says they have identified more than 30 employees who have suffered race discrimination, and claim at least 30 have been fired or forced to quit because of their age.

A casino spokesperson says the club cannot publically respond to the accusations. "They are personnel matters and they need to stay confidential." Mike Dages said.

Some of the plaintiffs are asking for their jobs back and their former work schedules. They're also seeking compensation for lost wages and punitive damages.

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