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A Roulette Wheel at Maryland Live.(The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Lawsuit: Maryland Live dealer school actually unpaid job training

Maryland Live’s “dealer school” was actually an uncompensated employee-training session in disguise, according to a would-be class action filed Tuesday.

The dealer school, which was open for 12 weeks in early 2013, received 10,000 applications but invited just 831 people to attend, a number not chosen by accident, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

“The sole purpose of Defendant’s temporary, makeshift ‘school’ was to hire the exact number of dealers needed to fill the vacant table game positions at Maryland Live,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also claims that while attendees were told the free program was developed in conjunction with Anne Arundel Community College, all classes and course materials originated with Maryland Live and all teachers were casino employees.

“This was not a situation where they were training people for a career in casino dealing,” said Steven M. Lubar of The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl in Baltimore.

In a statement, Maryland Live denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit.

“The suit is wholly without merit and we intend to fight against these baseless claims vigorously,” the casino said.

AACC, which is not a defendant in the lawsuit, continues to offers casino-dealer training that prepares students for “immediate employment” in any of the state’s casinos. A spokesman for the college declined to comment on the litigation.

Maryland voters approved the expansion of table games to the state’s casinos in the fall of 2012. Maryland Live opened in July 2012 with only slot machines, although company officials said at the time the casino was prepared to accommodate table games, which debuted in spring 2013.

The dealer school opened in January 2013 in space at Marley Station Mall and taught trainees about blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. The lawsuit alleges trainees had “absolutely no contact with professors or any staff from AACC.”

Maryland Live also set up a temporary human resources office next to the school to help ensure the trainees could begin working immediately after completing the program, according to the lawsuit.

Lubar said he did not find another example of a dealer school in researching the lawsuit and that the casino eventually found more experienced dealers to work at Maryland Live.

“Our assumption is that [the school] was set up this way because of an immediate need for people,” he said.

Students also had to fill out W-2 forms and undergo background checks during the training course, the lawsuit alleges. One of the named plaintiffs in the suit was disqualified from the school based on her background check, Lubar said.

“If it was an extended training program through Anne Arundel Community College, it wouldn’t matter if they qualified for working at Maryland Live,” he said.

Trainees were only paid for the final two days of training, receiving the minimum hourly wage for attendance, according to the lawsuit. Lubar said he did not know why trainees were paid for those days.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Maryland Wage Payment Collection Act. Dealer school attendees were required to attend classes for four hours a day, five days a week, but they often stayed more than 20 hours a week because of “numerous delays that can be attributed to the Maryland Live” staff, according to the complaint.

The case is Harbourt, et al., v. PPE Casino Resorts Maryland LLC, USDMD No. 1:14-cv-03211-CCB.