Billionaires' Yellowstone Club Sued for Stiffing Jamaican Staff
(Bloomberg) -- A group of Jamaican nationals hired with seasonal visas to work at the Yellowstone Club claim in a lawsuit that the ultra-exclusive Montana resort and a staffing company cheated them out of tips and other compensation.
Among about 110 cooks, servers, bartenders and housekeepers who were allegedly recruited in Jamaica with promises of tips that could amount to $600 a night, one of the men suing said he believes he prepared meals for Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg.
Instead of getting ample pay, the Jamaicans “found themselves jointly employed by a temp-staffing firm from Georgia, robbed of their tips and service charges, and with deductions taken from their pay that they never agreed to,” according to the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Butte, Montana.
The Jamaicans allege they were treated worse than other workers because they’re black. The group, which is represented by an advocacy group called Towards Justice, also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Representatives of the Yellowstone Club didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours to phone calls seeking comment. The other defendant, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, couldn’t be reached after regular hours at its Atlanta headquarters.
The suit was filed as a class action on behalf of Jamaicans who worked at the club with H-2B visas in the winter of 2017-2018. It alleges civil racketeering, racial discrimination, failure to pay required wages, fraud and other claims.
Cooks like Nicholas Douglas, who recalled preparing meals for Gates, Buffett and Zuckerberg, were supposed to receive a percentage of the revenue for all food prepared in the kitchen, according to the complaint. Black Jamaican cooks on visas didn’t receive this compensation while other cooks did, according to the complaint.
When one Jamaican server complained at a meeting about his compensation, a human resources person from defendant Hospitality Staffing Solutions told him “he could always be ‘taken back to Jamaica,’” according to the complaint.
The case is Douglas v. Yellowstone Club Operating LLC, 2:18-cv-00062, U.S. District Court, District of Montana (Butte).
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