At the elite’s summer camp, the workers allegedly get bunk

Former workers at a secretive men’s club for the rich and powerful are suing for mistreatment.

3 men standing

For the last 150 years, your invitation to Bohemian Grove has been lost in the mail.

But your absence hasn’t slowed the party at the ultra-exclusive summer camp for powerful American men, per Air Mail:

  • The elite Northern California retreat contains 140 distinct smaller camps, each staffed by 10-50 “valets.”
  • The draw: it’s secretive (no cell phones allowed), relaxing (no business allowed), and leans hard into its “frat party for adults” vibe (seriously, no women).
  • To that end, very much not verboten: booze. This is a luxurious $175k-of-wine-at-lunch, get-blackout-drunk kind of bacchanalia.

The clientele is happy; the workers… not so much

The Bohemian Club, which operates the Grove, has ~2.6k members with a combined net worth deep into the billions.

  • Prominent guests have included Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Mark Twain, Jack London, Charles Schwab, and Clarence Thomas.

But attendees’ deep pockets aren’t reflected in the paychecks of the workers who keep the revelry going all summer, according to a lawsuit from three former valets.

The plaintiffs’ allegations include:

  • Being forced to work 16+ hours per day without breaks or full pay — overtime pay was forbidden and time sheets couldn’t exceed 40 hours per week.
  • Payments made under the table, so the club could avoid payroll taxes and workers’ compensation.

Less legally troubling but still rude: One valet nearly quit, but was lured into a six-week season with the promise of a big bonus. The final bonus? $500.

Next up…

… Either a court date or a settlement. (A 2016 class-action suit involving former Grove employees settled for $7m; this current case could become a class-action suit as well.)

  • Expect fireworks either way — Have you ever encountered a rich, powerful man who doesn’t double down when accused of being in the wrong?

The club has already issued a statement brushing off the case as nothing more than a nuisance.

BTW: Bohemian Grove members can offer harmless fun — like the three major musical-theater productions they put on at camp each summer.

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