LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — On December 4, 2020, just before 7:30 a.m., surveillance video obtained by 13 Investigates shows a man in a hooded sweatshirt enter The Lodge on Hualapai Way near Desert Inn Road and immediately pull out a gun.
"He said, 'Keep your hands where I can see them! Give me the cash! You know what this is,'" recalls Edward Parker, the bartender who was on duty when the robbery went down.
Surveillance video shows Parker hand over the cash, then kneel on the ground with his hands behind his head as the robber puts the money in his bag.
"I was terrified, petrified! I've never had anything in my life happen like that before," Parker said.
The robber left with the cash. But more money was about to change hands.
Later than morning, Parker was summoned by Lodge management.
"And he expects that his employer is calling him in to a meeting to be asked, 'How are you doing? Can we help you? Do you need some time off?' Instead, they say, 'Here's a piece of paper. Repay the money or you're out,'" said attorney Sam Mirejovsky, who's representing Parker in a newly filed lawsuit.
"To me, it was such a violation! Not just of the law, not just of right and wrong, but also the trust that employees need to have with their employers," Mirejovsky said.
The suit accuses The Lodge of coercion, intimidation, deceptive trade and more.
It centers around a "Repayment form" Parker says he signed under duress, agreeing to reimburse the bar for $3,937.35 — either in one lump-sum or regular $300 paycheck deductions.
"I was confused by why this would happen. Frustrated. But also fearful of losing my job," Parker said. "You've got to remember, this is December of 2020."
Parker signed the document.
"My brain wasn't working correctly after having a gun shoved in my face," he said. "I was thinking about my paychecks, my livelihood, at a very chaotic time in America."
Lodge management did not respond to our call for comment, so we went to their corporate office, where we were told no one was available. A second message left in person was not returned, either.
The Lodge at Hualapai later sent the following statement:
"The stories appearing on the news and social media are not reflective of the facts as they occurred relating to Mr. Parker. The Lodge at Hualapai has been informed that a lawsuit has been filed by Mr. Parker. Given this pending litigation, and to maintain the confidentiality of matters of relating to its employees, as required under state and federal law, The Lodge will not be commenting publicly on this issue. The Lodge will vigorously defend against the lawsuit and the misinformation being circulated."
When attorneys from the law firm Sam and Ash first heard about what happened, they talked about it on their radio show.
"This story enrages us!" Mirejovsky said. "It's not just about Edward. It's about every single tip earner in this town. I believe they should expect to have their employer have their back."
Parker was not the only one.
On December 11, 2020, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police arrested 42-year-old Jack McLaughlin and 38-year-old Daniela Tito.
Police say the pair robbed a series of bars, including two other Lodge locations — Grand Teton Lodge in October and Cactus Lodge in November — before they hit The Lodge at Hualapai in December 2020.
"Considering the fact that two of our other properties had been robbed before that, a security system would be nice," said Parker. "Most other taverns in Las Vegas have a door buzzer system to allow people in and out of the building during certain hours. We didn't have that."
We asked Mirejovsky if bartenders at the other robbed locations were also forced to pay the stolen money back.
"One of them was, and he quit as a consequence of it, is my understanding," Mirejovsky said.
He says The Lodge's actions are illegal.
"It's theft! It's conversion. And it violates Nevada law," he said.
In order to withhold money, Mirejovsky explains an employer must prove their employee is responsible for it.
Is there some kind of a claim that he didn't follow procedure as far as money kept in the drawer or anything like that?
"That's the reason they gave him for why he needed to pay the money back," Mirejovsky said. "And what we'll ask them in the discovery phase is to show us the books, show us where our client signed and approved a handbook. We believe there is none."
There's also the matter of how else The Lodge could have been reimbursed. If the company had liability insurance, could they have been double-dipping by forcing Parker to pay them back?
"I don't know if they're double-dipping on the insurance claim," Mirejovsky said. "But that's one of the things that we are absolutely going to look into."
As they were working toward filing the lawsuit, Parker filed a complaint with the Nevada Labor Commission which resulted in a $5,520 settlement.
But he declined, on advice of counsel.
"It does show that there's an acknowledgment that there's a problem," Mirejovsky said.
"It changed my life — and not for the better," said Parker, who explains that after paying all the money back, he was essentially fired over a dispute about a single vacation day.
He has since left Las Vegas, a city he loved, to be closer to family across the country and to distance himself from all this.
"I think bad deeds hide in the shadows, and the best thing we can do is put light on them, and then get the justice that's deserved," Mirejovsky said.
Accused robber Jack McLaughlin's criminal case is still winding its way through court.
In Parker's case, The Lodge has not yet filed an answer to his civil complaint.