Repeated Demands for Prostitute: Grounds for Termination?

LTB logo

I don’t want to keep you in suspense: the answer is yes.

Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, located in Iowa, apparently gives its employees a special bonus to mark their first year of employment.  The bonus, at least in this case, was a gift certificate and a free night’s stay at the casino’s hotel.  A 62-year-old employee enjoying his bonus got into trouble after returning to his hotel room about midnight, and then calling the management (that is, his employers) to ask about hiring a prostitute.

Told that was not one of the services that the casino offered, even as part of the bonus, he called the competition, making the same request of the resort next door.  He must have identified himself in some way to them, because they called Riverside and asked what was going on.  As the report put it, hotel workers were then sent to the man’s room "to ask him to stop demanding prostitutes."  According to the hotel’s human resources director, the man answered the door in the nude.

It wasn’t clear whether the hotel’s human resources director was there at the time, but I like to think that he was.  If you are hoping to lose your job, answering the door naked when your human resources director knocks is probably one of the quicker ways to do that.  And, in fact, the employee was fired later that day.

This made the news recently because, after being fired, he filed a claim for unemployment benefits, which are typically not available if one has been fired for "misconduct."  At the hearing on the claim, the man argued that the casino had not been harmed by his actions, and that alcohol (a repeat offender) was to blame.  Double bonus points here for blaming the casino restaurant for forcing him to drink too much alcohol and then demand prostitutes.  As a result of the restaurant’s actions, he noted, "I was absolutely plowed."

Also to blame: the casino itself, for its deceptive advertising.  "The advertisement is that it’s just like Las Vegas, so I thought I was in Las Vegas," he argued.  Come to find out, it’s illegal there, too, sir (technically), but the bigger problem with the Las Vegas Defense — which we have seen invoked before — is that even if what happened in Las Vegas did have to stay in Las Vegas, you were in Iowa.

No benefits were awarded.

Link: CBS News