Five Jamaican citizens are seeking damages from the owners of the swanky Yellowstone Club in Montana's Paradise Valley for wages they say were withheld from them.
The five- identified as Nicholas Dougas, Tasheka Bryan, Junior Harris, Marcus Richards and Stephaney Smith- filed suit in federal court in September 2018 and are negotiating a settlement this week. The five say they are among more than 100 Jamaicans who were discriminated against by the resort.
According to court documents, the five black Jamaicans were hired in the winter 2017 and 2018 to work at the resort with temporary non-immigrant H-2B visas.
But instead of working directly for the resort, the five were instead employed by a Georgia-based temp staffing firm, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, which they say stiffed them on up to $600 in tips nightly by cutting them out of percentages of the night's haul, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Butte.
The workers said they met with management from the temp firm and were told they wouldn't get tips because they were "not from here," according to court document. One server who complained was told he could "go back to Jamaica."
The workers' suit names both the Yellowstone Club and the temp firm.
The complaint stated that the Yellowstone Club and Hospitality Staffing Solutions both blamed each other for the pay discrepancy. Attorneys for the Yellowstone Club declined to comment this week to The Associated Press, and Hospitality Staffiing Solution did not return calls for comment from the wire service.
The plaintiffs also stated in court filings and a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that other non-black workers doing similar jobs were receiving these tips.
This summer, the equal employment commission granted the five the right to file suit under federal civil-rights laws.
The Yellowstone Club near Big Sky is a 15,000-acre ski area and resort that caters to the millionaire class from across the country. The resort ran into legal problems of a different manner this spring when Montana Department of Revenue agents seized 9,000 bottles of alcohol from the facilities at the resort operating without a license.
Resort operators agreed to pay $370,000 in penalties and temporarily forfeit their liquor licenses this year.