A Black female lieutenant in the US Army — who was refused entry into Harrah’s New Orleans earlier this month — appears likely to follow through with her threatened discrimination lawsuit. But a law professor cautions she may not recover much in damages if the case goes to trial.
On Oct. 5, Deja Harrison, 23, was told by casino staff she could not enter the gaming property. A Harrah’s employee disputed her ID cards, including a military ID.
Harrison saw the incident as evidence that the staff assumed that a Black woman of her age could not achieve a higher rank. She has retained an attorney.
When asked for comment, Robert Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law and who is not involved in the case, said the casino staff made a questionable judgment.
While Harrison is unlikely to recover much in the way of monetary damages, I’m assuming — if she goes through with the suit — that she wants to make a point — that people, and particularly men, should not make assumptions about what young Black women can or cannot achieve,” Jarvis told Casino.org.
“I think the reasonable thing to have done here was to let her in,” Jarvis added.
Harrison first provided the staff a driver’s license. It could not be validated through a scanner. Harrison then produced the military ID. The Harrah’s employee rejected it allegedly because the screener felt that someone who looked as young as Harrison could not be at the E-6 salary-level and rank. She in fact is at a higher rank as a second lieutenant.
This was a judgment call and a poor one,” Jarvis said. “The military card showed a picture of a person who looked like Harrison, and [it] was not expired.”
“There was no reason, based on the card, to think that Harrison was not the person in the card and was too young to enter the casino,” Jarvis said.
The next move by the Harrah’s employee, saying he was calling the New Orleans Police Department, raised other issues.
“It appears that Harrah’s never placed the call and let Harrison cool her heels for two hours until she finally gave up and left,” Jarvis said. Telling Harrison, it was calling the police, then not doing so, and not telling Harrison “is clearly unacceptable,” Jarvis added.
He also noted that Harrah’s has a policy to card those visitors who appear to be under 30. Harrison is 23.
“Thus, carding her was consistent with Harrah’s policy,” Jarvis said.
Information Did Not Match
In a statement to Casino.org, Caesars Entertainment, parent company of Harrah’s New Orleans, has said the information on the military ID card did not match the information Harrison told security officers.
As a result, in compliance with applicable gaming regulations, our security officers did not permit Ms. Harrison to enter the casino.”
“Caesars Entertainment has an unwavering commitment to diversity and our military. We are saddened by this situation and will continue to evaluate our processes….”
Screening Advice to Casinos
Generally, Jarvis said that the checking of IDs at a casino, bar, nightclub, or other establishment is “tricky.
“Some young people look old, while some old people look young. Thus, there’s a lot of judgment that goes into who one admits and who one turns away.”
In general, screeners should be familiar with different IDs and have “a lot of patience, common sense, and good judgment,” Jarvis recommends.
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