Skip to main content

WROTB board prepared to hire outside law firm to investigate sexual harassment, wage theft allegations

By Mike Pettinella
Dennis Bassett

The chair of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors this afternoon said it’s likely that an outside law firm will be hired to look into sexual harassment and wage theft allegations by three former Batavia Downs Gaming employees.

“The allegations in the lawsuit made by the OTB employees are certainly concerning to us as a board and warrant an investigation,” Dennis Bassett, (photo at right), who represents the City of Rochester, told The Batavian. “Presently, we are discussing whether we should seek an outside law firm to conduct further investigation to ensure the integrity of their findings.”

Bassett said he spoke to all the other directors by telephone on Thursday and is fairly certain that attorneys from an independent firm not connected to the public benefit company will be retained.

“Our intention is not to delay moving forward on this,” he added.

Former WROTB bartenders Tara Sweet of Elba, Corrine Armison of Batavia and Brooklynn Cline of Belmont are suing the corporation, claiming wage theft by supervisors who kept a share of pooled tips.

Furthermore, Sweet is alleging sexual harassment against Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski and Director of Security Daniel Wood.

Kiedrowski and Wood are named as defendants, along with WROTB and Batavia Downs Gaming, in the suit that was filed in Supreme Court in Genesee County on Wednesday.

Bassett said that both Kiedrowski and Wood are on the job pending the outcome of the investigation and lawsuit.

“They are innocent until we find out the facts,” he said. “We’re going to look at all the facts, as well as our institutional policies and how we responded (to the allegations).”

He said some of the allegations in the lawsuit were not presented to WROTB administration, necessitating the need for an independent investigation.

“By hiring an outside firm, we would send a signal that we want to get to the bottom of this and act accordingly,” he said. “I don’t believe administration had all the pieces to do a thorough investigation but did as much as they could with the facts presented.”

When it was mentioned that WROTB continues to find itself embroiled in legal troubles, giving the corporation a “black eye,” Bassett sighed before responding.

“Regardless of how successful we are – and we certainly have been over the past couple of years, we cannot and will not in any way overlook the concerns of our employees,” he said. “We will look into this and take it very seriously. At the end of the day, our success depends on how our employees are treated.”

On Thursday, The Batavian reported in detail on the lawsuit, which was reported by the United Public Service Employees Union on Oct. 30. Batavia Downs Gaming fired Sweet on Nov. 16, while Armison and Cline quit their jobs in the spring.

A letter dated Dec. 8 from the attorney representing Sweet, Armison, and Cline indicated that the trio was seeking $250,000 “to right these wrongs:” and that Sweet be reinstated and her disciplinary record be swept clean. If those conditions weren’t met by Dec. 22, according to the letter, the demand for compensation increases to $500,000, along with the threat of a lawsuit.

WROTB officials contend that Sweet was let go for stealing from a customer, something that is disputed in the lawsuit.

Previously: Former Batavia Downs employees file lawsuit alleging wage theft and sexual harassment; OTB documents point to inconsistencies

Authentically Local