June 20, 2023 3 min read


Former Tribal Chairman Files Discrimination Lawsuit against Reno Casino

Jimmy-John Thompson, who resides in Sacramento, claims that he experienced racial discrimination while staying at the popular establishment

A lawsuit has been filed against the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, a prominent attraction in Reno, Nevada, by Jimmy-John Thompson, former tribal chairman of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe in California. 

Native American Guest Faces Accusations and Eviction

According to court documents, the incident occurred on October 15, 2022, when Thompson, during his stay at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, detected the scent of smoke emanating from the air vent in his hotel room. Alarmed, he promptly informed the front desk, suspecting a potential fire, reported Native News Online. Hotel staff were dispatched to investigate but could not locate the source of the smoke. Consequently, Thompson was relocated to a different room.

Concerned about the situation, Thompson decided to contact the Reno Fire Department to report the possible fire at the property. Firefighters promptly arrived at the scene and determined that there was no ongoing fire, assuring Thompson that the source of the smoke had been extinguished.

In a startling turn of events, the lawsuit alleges that the hotel subsequently dispatched two security guards to Thompson’s new room, demanding his immediate departure. Furthermore, the guards accused him of arson in relation to his previous hotel room, claiming to possess evidence supporting their allegations. 

Attorney Norberto J. Cisneros, representing Jimmy-John Thompson, expressed his disappointment with the treatment his client received. Cisneros firmly believes that had Thompson not been Native American, he would not have endured such mistreatment.

Lawsuit Claims Civil Rights Violation by Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

The lawsuit contends that the actions of the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino violated Thompson’s civil rights by discriminating against him, as he was denied access to public accommodations while others were not. Seeking justice, Thompson’s attorney is seeking $15,000 in damages.

The lawsuit also highlights Thompson’s health condition—deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—for which he takes medication. One of the side effects of his medication is the possibility of involuntary convulsions in colder temperatures. As a result of being expelled from his hotel room in the early hours, Thompson was forced to sleep in his car, leading to several convulsions, as stated in the lawsuit.

Thompson’s visit to Reno was intended to attend the Western Mining Action Network‘s conference, with plans to make a field visit near the Thacker Pass Lithium mine—an endeavor of significant controversy among regional tribes. However, due to the unjust treatment he faced, Thompson was unable to rest properly and consequently missed the field visit to Thacker Pass.

It is not the first time that Native Americans have received unjust treatment at a hotel and casino property. In October, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino in South Dakota for racial discrimination after they banned Native Americans from their establishment.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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