Wynn Resorts wants court to toss ex-salon chief spying claim

LAS VEGAS — Wynn Resorts wants a Nevada judge to dismiss an ex-beauty salon director’s lawsuit alleging company executives invaded his privacy and spied on him after he spoke publicly about sexual misconduct allegations against former casino mogul Steve Wynn nearly two years ago.

A Dec. 10 hearing has been scheduled before Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel on the bid to toss out the civil conspiracy lawsuit that hairstylist Jorgen Nielsen filed in October against Wynn Resorts, company chief Matt Maddox and two former top officials.

In documents filed Friday, the company does not deny responsibility for a person Nielsen identified as an “undercover operative” who posed as a customer after Nielsen moved to another job at another resort. But Wynn Resorts says Nielsen wasn’t harmed.

Nielsen doesn’t say the person lied to him, used “surreptitious methods,” entered a private location, “or even gathered any meaningful information,” the company court filing said. Nielsen also “does not allege the interaction cost him his job, diminished his income or had any other effect on him or his employment,” it said.

The document also accuses Nielsen of providing contact information for key Wynn Resorts employees to Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, before Wall Street Journal reporters used the information ahead of a January 2018 report alleging sexual wrongdoing by Steve Wynn.

Elaine Wynn, now the largest individual shareholder in Wynn Resorts, said in a statement that she “never engaged with reporters from the Wall Street Journal” and declined to speak with reporters who said in their report they contacted more than 150 people who worked or had worked for Steve Wynn.

The Journal reported that corporate action was not taken despite complaints by female employees accusing Wynn of harassing or assaulting them, including one case that led to a $7.5 million settlement.

Nielsen, who worked at several Las Vegas hotels built by Wynn, was quoted commenting about employees’ fears of Wynn.

Steve Wynn, 77, resigned from his casino company in February 2018. He has denied all allegations against him. He is not a defendant in Nielsen’s lawsuit against Wynn Resorts.

Wynn’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, did not immediately respond Tuesday to telephone and email messages.

Steve Wynn has blamed his ex-wife for the Journal report and has filed several defamation lawsuits, including one against Nielsen that remains open in state court in Las Vegas. Wynn also has a pending defamation lawsuit involving The Associated Press.

Nielsen’s lawsuit points to a record $20 million fine the company paid in February to settle a Nevada gambling regulatory probe of claims that executives failed to investigate sexual misconduct claims against Wynn before he resigned.

It said the corporate plan to “spy” on Nielsen was revealed in a Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigation of Wynn Resorts’ suitability to open a Boston-area resort. The property opened this year after stripping Wynn’s name from the marquee.

Massachusetts regulators fined Wynn Resorts $35 million for failing while applying for a casino license to disclose years of allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn.

“It is believed that this investigation corroborated reports of years of Steve Wynn misconduct in the Wynn workplace, and the complicity of high-level hotel and corporate executives in ignoring, enabling, facilitating, tolerating and them covering up that misconduct,” Nielsen’s lawsuit said.

Wynn Resorts, which owns the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, has cited Maddox’s testimony before Massachusetts regulators that the company did not authorize “inappropriate surveillance activity.”

Ken Ritter, The Associated Press