Ex-Staffer Drops Discrimination Suit Against MGM Springfield and Former Leader Mathis

Chelan Brown, an ex-employee of MGM Springfield who filed a discrimination case against the casino and its former president, Michael Mathis, has dropped her lawsuit.

According to documents filed in Hampden County Superior Court last week, Brown agreed to dismiss the case. It had, in part, accused MGM Springfield of incorrectly reporting diversity hires to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

The lawsuit also claimed the casino’s senior management, including Mathis, retaliated against Brown after she took the claims of inaccurate hiring reports to upper leadership.

At the time, Brown was a diversity manager at the casino, though she filled several roles during her time with MGM.

Lawsuit Claimed Breach of Contract, Retaliation

Initially filed in the Hampden court last November, the suit named Mathis and Blue Tarp Development as defendants. Blue Tarp is a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International and owns the Springfield casino property.

The suit described Brown as an “African American female who dedicated herself to the success of MGM” and “one its first employees.”

Indeed, Brown’s employment with MGM started in 2014, when the company hired her as a regional area director during the pre-construction of the Springfield property.

In early 2015, Brown shifted into administration, assisting Mathis as president. However, she was soon and repeatedly promoted, eventually landing the role of construction diversity manager that September.

Brown succeeded in the role, becoming a public face for the company. Reportedly, that success earned praise from Mathis and MGM Resorts International’s former chairman and CEO, James Murren.

However, things soon went wrong on multiple fronts.

In the suit, Brown alleged racial discrimination and multiple legal breaches on top of the retaliation claims. She also alleged a breach of contract and promises by the defendants and accused Mathis of improper behavior, including becoming “heavily intoxicated” at company events.

Additionally, the suit alleged Mathis asked Brown to engage in illegal activities:

President Mathis felt so comfortable with Ms. Brown that he even attempted to employ her to commit illegal acts on his behalf.

Her refusal, the documents followed, would ultimately mean the beginning of the end for Brown’s career with MGM.

Suit Launched After MCAD Complaint Fails to Stick

As part of her role, Brown oversaw the casino’s Operational Procurement Diversity Plan and presented it to the MGC.

However, according to the lawsuit, Brown began to suspect numbers in the report were inaccurate and shared her suspicions with Mathis.

The suit claimed the defendants told Brown not to raise the inaccuracies in a meeting with staff from MGM Las Vegas. After disclosing anyway, the complaint alleged MGM removed Brown from her procurement role shortly after.

Brown remained with MGM, but the suit said her relationship with the company deteriorated after reporting the alleged illegal conduct. MGM eventually terminated Brown’s employment in November 2019.

Brown mounted the lawsuit after a complaint to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) received a Lack of Probable Cause (LOPC) determination in August 2022. 

Despite an appeal, MCAD affirmed its LOPC ruling in January 2023.

Michael Memmolo, MCAD’s interim executive director, confirmed to Bonus, “There is no further action that can take place at the MCAD.”

In the interim, Brown took the complaint to Hampden Superior Court. The last time the case made the news was in April when the two sides agreed to drop two issues from the civil suit.

Having dropped the remainder of the case, Brown may have reached the end of the road in her battle.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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