The ACLU of Rhode Island announced the favorable settlement of a five-year-old lawsuit against the RI State Police (RISP) for retaliating against a Twin River Casino employee who declined to serve as an informant in a criminal gambling investigation.
According to the lawsuit filed in 2017 in federal court by ACLU of RI cooperating attorney James A. Musgrave, the Gambling Enforcement Unit (GEU) of the RISP issued an order barring the employee from the premises of the casino in Lincoln, where she worked as a cocktail waitress. The order provided no explanation for the basis of her exclusion and did not provide any avenue to appeal the decision. The lawsuit alleged that the exclusion order was in retaliation for her refusing to work as an informant for the GEU.
Under the settlement, RISP, without acknowledging any wrongdoing, agreed to pay $65,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and to adopt a policy that establishes due process procedures that must be followed in excluding individuals from the casino. The RISP had previously agreed that the employee could return to work there.
Attorney Musgrave said: “This lawsuit involved the most essential requirement of due process - an opportunity to be heard. We alleged that the Gaming Enforcement Unit had barred my client from her place of employment without any explanation and without any way to appeal her exclusion. This settlement corrects that fundamental constitutional flaw. The new procedures which the RISP has enacted mean that patrons and employees at Twin River will be given the notice and opportunity to be heard that our Constitution requires.”
Steven Brown, ACLU of RI executive director, added: “While the State Police have a legitimate role to play in keeping Twin River free from criminal activity, unilaterally barring an innocent employee from the casino as leverage to obtain their assistance in an investigation should not be tolerated. We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this case through the agency’s adoption of a policy that will prevent this type of action in the future.”
More information about the lawsuit can be found here. The plaintiff does not wish to make herself available for interviews.