May 17, 2012 -- Melodee Megia, a former employee at The Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, claims she was told she was fired from her job for saying "bye bye" on the telephone instead of "goodbye" while eight-months pregnant.
Megia, 37, has filed a lawsuit against the hotel for pregnancy discrimination and a class-action suit for workers' wages, saying employees were not paid for the time they had to wait for and change into their uniforms on a daily basis.
Megia worked at the hotel from November 2010 until August 2011, when she said she was fired "based on her pregnancy," according to court papers filed with the Clark County District Court in Nevada last week.
Megia was a "room service sales" employee answering the telephone when hotel guests called for room service, occasionally assisting in room delivery, her lawyers said.
She is represented by Mark Thierman and Jason Kuller, labor attorneys.
Thierman said "she was denigrated verbally and was mistreated because of her pregnancy," while having a "behind-the-scenes" job at the hotel.
Amy Rossetti, public relations director of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, said in a statement, "As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation."
The Cosmopolitan hotel is a modern and posh hotel rated four stars by TripAdvisor.com that opened its doors in December 2010.
"It's tough working in Vegas, which tries to be glamorous," Thierman said.
In March 2011, according to the lawsuit, Megia was asked to deliver a "pleasure packet" of condoms to a service assistant to provide to a hotel guest, when Megia's supervisor said, "Isn't it too late for that? You should have thought about it before getting knocked up."
"From that point forward, the director of room service frequently gave [Megia] dirty looks or shook his head disapprovingly," the suit said.
One day, the suit added, he commented, "'So when are you having that?' in reference to [Megia's] pregnant stomach," and on another occasion, he told another co-worker as Megia began her shift, "That is what happens when you have sex."
In August 2011, when she was eight months pregnant, the "stated reason for [her] termination was that she said 'bye bye' instead of 'good bye' on the telephone to a room service customer," according to the suit.
"In fact, this was merely a pretext as [Megia] had been subject to harassing conduct and other pretextual discipline leading up to her termination since the time her pregnancy was learned by [the hotel]," the suit added.
In the same filing to sue the hotel for unspecified damages for pregnancy discrimination, Megia also made class-action allegations for unpaid wages on behalf of the hotel's employees.
"Nevada is a very tough state for service employees. It's the Wild West. Coming from California originally, it was shocking for me," Thierman said. "Many, if not most, people here work on minimum wage plus tips. Some of the abuses are pretty flagrant."
In the Cosmopolitan hotel's case, employees were not permitted to wear their uniforms outside work and had to pick up and drop off their uniforms before and after their shifts, often leading to additional overtime for which they were not paid, the suit claimed.
The suit said employees also had to change into their uniforms on-site in an area away from where they clocked in and out for the day.
The hotel also "maintained timekeeping policies that always rounded work hours in favor of the [hotel]," the suit said.
The Cosmopolitan maintained a rounding policy to the nearest 15 minutes, but Megia and other employees were "prohibited" from "clocking in more than seven minutes early or more than a minute late," the filing said, and employees were prohibited from "clocking out less than a minute early or more than seven minutes late."
"Service workers are not protected," Thierman said. "Nevada has a misconception that 'right to work' means 'right to abuse,' when it really means workers don't have to join a union."
"These are true blue collar workers whom labor laws were designed to protect," he said. "These were workers who worked physically hard as opposed to working at a desk. I think they deserve as much protection as they can get."