Wellness firm sues MGM, saying casino company tried to steal its employees
Las Vegas — A wellness coach firm has filed a lawsuit claiming MGM Resorts breached its contract to hire a cheaper vendor, then attempted to steal away the former firm’s coaches and trade secrets.
When MGM gave notice in June that it wanted to end its contracts, Pennsylvania-based Wellness Coaches USA had 22 health coaches working with employees at the casino company’s Las Vegas Strip casino-hotels, its corporate headquarters and MGM Grand Detroit, MGM Goldstrike Tunica and Beau Rivage.
Representatives for MGM Resorts and the new vendor, Life Time Fitness Inc., said the lawsuit is without merit.
“We intend to vigorously defend ourselves,” said Jason Thunstrom, spokesman for Life Time Fitness.
Wellness Coaches first began working with MGM Resorts in October 2010.
The lawsuit says MGM Resorts abruptly ended its contract in June, with the proper 60-day notice for two agreements but not for 11 others that hadn’t yet expired.
It also says MGM Resorts conspired with the new vendor, Minnesota-based Life Time Fitness, to hire away the company’s coaches, despite contract clauses barring that.
Wellness says coaches downloaded large files containing confidential information and trade secrets, sending them to their MGM email accounts.
The lawsuit filed in August against MGM Resorts and Life Time Fitness doesn’t include any individual coaches as defendants.
An attorney for Wellness Coaches did not respond Friday to requests for comment.
MGM Resorts’ attorney Todd Bice said in court documents the casino company ended its contract with Wellness Coaches because its business was outdated and it could save $500,000 annually by hiring Life Time Fitness.
MGM also denies possessing any of Wellness Coaches’ confidential trade secrets and said it had no role in the interview and hiring process.
“Most importantly, and regretfully, MGM can now point to the fact that Wellness’ misguided litigation tactics have forced more than twenty people out of their jobs,” Bice wrote in a filing, adding that Life Time Fitness ultimately didn’t hire any of the Wellness coaches.
Life Time Fitness, in its court filing responses, said it didn’t attempt to steal away any coaches and didn’t seek any confidential information or trade secrets when it interviewed Wellness coaches.
On Sept. 18, a federal judge in Nevada granted a preliminary injunction against Life Time Fitness but not against MGM Resorts. The injunction doesn’t appear to prevent Life Time Fitness from offering wellness coaching to MGM employees as the lawsuit proceeds.
The wellness program has been touted by MGM Resorts for helping employees lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. MGM Resorts has 62,000 employees in the United States.