Bohemian Grove has been known to accommodate some of the world’s most famous and powerful men.
The illusive camp, which has confidential male-only membership, has hosted guests such as Richard Nixon, Clint Eastwood, Mark Twain, Bill Gates and Ronald Reagan, to name a few.
Now, three workers from the California-based campsite are alleging that they were made to work “non-stop” for 16 hours as valets and were not given bathroom or lunch breaks. For this time, the workers say they were only paid for eight hours of work.
Workers were also told that the camp didn’t have enough money to support raises, despite accommodating some of the world’s most wealthy and having millions of dollars in assets. Reportedly, the camp took in more than $4.5m (£3.5m) in 2020 and has more than $38m (£29.9m) in assets.
The camp is famous for its summer ‘frat’-like parties, for which one of the prosecutors said, in an interview for Air Mail, that members party as if they “don’t want that college experience to go away” but now they just have “more money and better alcohol,” he added.
In response, the club denied all allegations and said the plaintiffs had never worked at the club to begin with, describing the suit as a “transparent attempt to drag the Club into their individual circumstances.”
"Frat house" parties and "non-stop" work
The Air Mail article describes the boozy, masculine environment cultivated at the camp.
“It’s the sort of partying that’s learned in a frat house and evolved by men whose careers depend on sociability: gin fizzes in the morning; Kahlua and coffee; wine at lunch, white and then red; more wine at dinner; and, routinely, Manhattans with cigars,” he wrote.
Allegedly, one lunch included four valets working “non-stop for approximately 18 hours, providing a two-course lunch and dinner to 90 guests.”
In the suit, Bill Dawson, the camp’s treasurer has been accused of telling valets to “falsify payroll records and work off the-the-clock,” while the lawsuit details how “employees were intimidated or coerced into waiving meal periods.” Some employees also allege being paid “under the table” during their shifts.
Claims also include club members being made aware that valets were able to work “non-stop” whilst they were on the grounds, and employees were not allowed to take phone calls over 30 minutes or between 9am and 9pm.
A previous lawsuit was filed by former Bohemian Grove workers between 2015 and 2019. The camp was forced to pay a settlement of $3.5m (£2.7m). Another lawsuit in 2016, where a similar case of wage theft was concerned, saw the camp pay out another $7m (£5.5m).
But the current lawsuit plaintiffs, argue that they expect the camp to “shield itself from legal liability by asserting that the camps operate autonomously.”