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As her lawsuit against MGM Springfield moves forward, Chelan Brown 'encouraged' by new leadership

Chelan Brown stands across the street from MGM Springfield on Dec. 14, 2022.
Elizabeth Román
Chelan Brown stands across the street from MGM Springfield on Dec. 14, 2022.

A former MGM Springfield employee suing the casino said it can do more to create a diverse workforce.

In her lawsuit, Chelan Brown alleges she was retaliated against, and eventually fired, after calling into question why casino officials were allegedly submitting false diversity hiring numbers to state gambling regulators.

During a press conference Wednesday outside Springfield District Court and across the street from the casino, Brown said she understands MGM Springfield is a large employer that can provide job opportunities to the region.

"Regardless of what the outcome may be with my lawsuit, I'm encouraging the community partners I've worked with, officials and others to come to the table with MGM to figure out how to ensure that women workers and vendors of color are provided access to the opportunities that MGM holds," she said.

Brown said she believes in the new leadership at the casino, including president Chris Kelley, but still hopes the company will be held accountable.

"I am encouraged by the new MGM Springfield leadership team. However, some of those who failed me and others in high ranking roles at MGM still remain and need to be held accountable," she said. "It is not enough to repair the discrimination or harassment, broken promises and duress that I endured."

MGM Springfield cited company policy in not commenting on the lawsuit. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has said it is looking into the matter.

Brown's brother-in-law and Springfield Ward 4 City Councilor Malo Brown attended the press conference and said residents are still awaiting the promises made by MGM Springfield before its opening in 2018.

"The lack of respect and transparency that MGM has had for the Black and brown community, to me, it's unacceptable and they can do better," he said. "MGM owes the city of Springfield answers. The people of Springfield want to know...Open up these books and let us see."

Brown's attorney, Dan Kelly, said the company used her and her family as the "public face" during its campaign to become a casino. He said Brown initially believed in MGM Springfield's plan for the city's future.

"Chelan is interested in MGM really coming to the table with the community and living up to their diversity promises. That's really the cornerstone of what this is about," he said.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
Elizabeth Román edits daily news stories at NEPM as managing editor. She is working to expand the diversity of sources in our news coverage and is also exploring ways to create more Spanish-language news content.