Valets Say Millionaires Underpaid Them in CA

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Some of world’s most powerful men, in the Bohemian Club, cheat the help of wages during conclaves in a grove of old-growth redwoods north of San Francisco, valets claim in a class action.
     Gabriel Martin and Jacob Horvat claim they worked 18-hour days and were on call for 24, without overtime pay or rest and meal breaks during the club’s summer meetings.
     The men-only Bohemian Club, founded in 1872 by San Francisco journalists and artists, grew into an annual bash of elites, including political leaders, titans of industry and other grandees.
     The private club is extremely secretive. Its 2,700 current members all joined by invitation, and the wait can take decades. Past and present members include Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, William Randolph Hearst, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Cronkite, Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush.
     The club has held summer gatherings in the woods since 1878. The Bohemian Grove, a 2,700-acre retreat center in Monte Rio, is the site of several club events each year, but the highlight is a two-week summer camp in early July.
     The event is organized into more than 100 camps with names such as Hill Billies, Mandalay, Cave Man and Monkey Block. Martin and Horvat worked several summers as camp valets.
     “Camp valets’ primary duty is to serve the needs of Camp participants, primarily through manual labor. Camp valets job duties include clean-up, set-up, personal service work, including moving wine cases, chairs, tables, beer kegs, firewood and luggage; building fires; cooking meals; stocking refrigerators; delivering newspapers; making coffee; serving cocktails; washing dishes; scrubbing floors; doing laundry; making beds, and cleaning showers and campgrounds,” the men say in the July 8 complaint in Superior Court.
     They say managers misclassified them as independent contractors and tried to make them sign releases of wage and hour claims in exchange for payments of $250 to $1,000, but they refused.
     The Bohemian Club’s general manager did not return calls requesting comment. His message says he will be away “at the Grove” for the rest of July.
     Martin and Horvat’s attorney Bree Ullman, who declined to comment, filed a similar complaint last year against the Bohemian Club on behalf of another valet. That case was settled.
     The new complaint names the individual camps as defendants, not the Bohemian Club itself.
     It alleges violations of California labor law, including unpaid wages and record-keeping failures.
     Martin and Horvat seek class certification, an injunction, damages and penalties.

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