Being a caddie, even at a prestigious private country club, is rarely viewed as a prestigious job. The hours can be long, the duties menial, and the pay low. Four caddies at the Montclair Golf Club in West Orange have decided to contest their status by filing a class-action lawsuit against the club for various alleged violations of the New Jersey wage and hour laws.
The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Essex County, where the country club is located. The complaint alleges that the caddies work an average of 10 hours per day, six to seven days a week during peak golfing season. The caddies are paid from the $60 per round fees and tips paid by the golfers.
The complaint alleges that the caddies do not earn enough to satisfy New Jersey’s minimum wage requirement. The complaint also alleges that caddies are required to clean bathrooms in the clubhouse and to bring drinks to golfers. The caddies are not compensated for these duties, and the duties are not included in the caddies’ job descriptions.
New Jersey’s minimum wage for 2022 has been set at $13.00 per hour. The club determines the fees that are paid by golfers and the amount that is paid to the caddies. Caddies are forced to wait for assignment, and if the number of golfers is low, a caddy may be required to wait several hours until they are assigned to a golfer.
On some days, a caddie may wait several hours without being assigned to a golfer. If a round lasts more than four hours, the caddie’s hourly wage, even with tips, could easily average out to less than $13.00/hour. The complaint thus describes several circumstances in which a caddie’s compensation is less than the $13.00/hour required by state law.
The next step
The country club has not yet responded to the complaint. Once the complaint has been answered, the parties are expected to engage in discovery. The caddies may seek the club’s records concerning caddie compensation as well as board minutes concerning pay to be paid to daddies.
Many defenses are possible, including a likely allegation that the caddies are employed by individual golfers and are not employees of the club. If the caddies prevail, they will be entitled to recover unpaid overtime and any shortfall between their actual wages and the state minimum wage.
Seeking advice from a labor law attorney
Anyone caught in a dispute over the requirements of either New Jersey’s or the Federal government’s minimum wage and mandatory overtime laws may wish to consult an experienced labor law attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and advice on likely outcomes.