A Longport woman who was a senior executive for Caesars Entertainment Corp. has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer alleging she was retaliated against and ultimately terminated for reporting an incident in which a superior and a subordinate engaged in intimate behavior at a work function.
Jocelyn Agnellini-Allison, a former regional vice president of marketing for Caesars, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages from the gaming company, according to a civil suit filed in U.S. District Court.
In the suit, Agnellini-Allison claimed discrimination on the basis of sex, retaliation and a hostile work environment resulting in her being fired in February after reporting to management that other employees had witnessed Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars’ three Atlantic City properties, and a subordinate “making out” following a work event in 2017.
A message left with Ortzman’s office seeking comment was not returned. An email sent Wednesday to the attorney on record for Caesars Entertainment received no response.
Noel Stevenson, regional director of public relations for Caesars Entertainment, said the company would not comment on pending litigation.
Caesars filed a response with the District Court on Monday in which it denied the allegations in the complaint.
Lane Schiff, a Philadelphia-based attorney representing Agnellini-Allison, declined to comment.
The eight-page suit alleges two employees who directly reported to Agnellini-Allison told her in May 2017 that Ortzman and the female subordinate were seen being physically intimate after a work event. Agnellini-Allison reported the incident to management “on or about May 23, 2017, and May 26, 2017.” When Ortzman learned the incident had been reported, he allegedly threatened “there will be hell to pay” if he found out who was responsible, according to the complaint.
Ortzman also serves as president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and sits on the executive board of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The suit claims that Caesars management “failed to take corrective and remedial action,” and Agnellini-Allison was subjected to retaliation thereafter. Among the examples cited in the complaint, Agnellini-Allison was excluded from meetings and executive team thank-you emails, her authority as a senior executive was circumvented, she stopped receiving holiday gifts, one-on-one meetings were canceled and she was treated in a “hostile and dismissive manner.”
The suit further alleges Caesars has an “underrepresentation of female employees, particularly females in high-level positions.”
Last year, Caesars announced the Gender Equity Initiative, which was created to increase representation of women in leadership roles by 2025. Among the company’s U.S. markets, 43% of manager and above roles are held by women.
Agnellini-Allison’s suit claims she was employed with Caesars for 21 years. The company, in its filed response, would only confirm that she was employed from 2015 to 2019.
The suit seeks a judgment against Caesars and compensatory damages for all past and future earnings, benefits and earnings capacity, emotional distress, mental anguish and humiliation as well as punitive damages, court costs and attorney’s fees.
Caesars Entertainment operates three casino hotels in Atlantic City — Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s Resort — and is finalizing a $17.3 billion sale to Eldorado Resorts, parent company of Tropicana Atlantic City.