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A slice of New Jersey's economy depends on gambling. And in Atlantic City, a new casino plans term limits for some of its staff. When certain employees' contracts run out, they have to go through the hiring process again. That's the plan.
The casino says this is going to keep service fresh. Critics say the company is taking advantage of a tough job market. Emma Jacobs has the story, from member station WHYY.
EMMA JACOBS, BYLINE: Monopoly is set here in Atlantic City. And in the board game, as in real life, Connecticut Avenue isn't a glamorous spot. But a new casino going up here - Revel - is expected to make Connecticut Avenue a more exciting destination.
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JACOBS: On a windy day, Patty Daley and other workers are putting the finishing touches on Revel's bright, new parking garage.
PATTY DALEY: The white - that just means that it's new. We've been doing it for a couple years.
JACOBS: Daley's work at Revel will only last until the end of construction. That's a given. But Revel recently said that positions inside the building, working closely with customers, will also have fixed terms. Employees from bellhops to dealers, will be hired for four to six years. And after that, they'll have to reapply for their jobs and compete against other candidates.
Revel declined an interview. In a written statement, the company asserts the policy will help, quote, attract the most highly professional people who are inspired by a highly competitive work environment, unquote. But it's an unusual way to go. Call up people who work in employment law or advocacy, and they've never heard of anything like this before.
ALICE BALLARD: What they've done here is set up a system that puts their good performers through a gauntlet of having to compete with people who have no record of performance.
JACOBS: Alice Ballard is a prominent employment attorney who works out of Philadelphia. She says anyone can be fired from their job. But she thinks this policy is more problematic.
BALLARD: Why would you take your good performers and put them through that competitive process, if you aren't trying to get rid of a good performer for some other reason?
JACOBS: Ballard thinks that other reason is probably age. To Ballard, this reapplication process looks like a low-profile way for the casino to regularly weed out older employees.
On the other hand, Brian Tyrrell thinks there's a logic to Revel's thinking. He's a professor of hospitality management at the Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. He quotes a famous hotel executive.
BRIAN TYRRELL: I think it was Hilton that talks about a thousand points of contact with the guest and how that's, you know, that is what the guest remembers, in terms of the service delivery experience. And they want to have a high degree of control over that.
JACOBS: Tyrell thinks the policy will motivate people to get promoted because managers won't be required to reapply for their posts. He also says Atlantic City desperately needs new jobs, making the employment insecurity imposed by Revel a price worth paying.
Casino employee Jeff Payne sits in the living room of the comfortable house he bought with his casino earnings. He's been with Caesars for 23 years. Right now, he serves drinks in the high- roller lounge.
JEFF PAYNE: How can you buy a car if you don't know you're going to have a job? You know, you want to refinance your home. You want to buy a home. I mean, these have always been decent jobs - good-paying jobs, sustaining jobs. But my concern is, you know - again, you get this job, and then you have no job security.
JACOBS: Payne, a union member, says the new jobs aren't what were promised when gaming came to Atlantic City. But lots of people laid off from casinos in Atlantic City in the last few years, still haven't found work. He says that even with the Revel's tough hiring policy, they will probably still apply.
For NPR News, I'm Emma Jacobs
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