National Golf Links of America is on the receiving end of a proposed class and collective action that alleges the Southampton, New York country club has unlawfully paid caddies only for the time they spent carrying a golf bag. The 19-page case claims caddies who worked for the National, which Sports Illustrated once dubbed “America’s snootiest golf course,” are owed unpaid time-and-a-half overtime wages.
According to the lawsuit, which also names as a defendant an individual “caddy master,” the National requires each member to take a caddy during every round of golf. During its open season, the club employs between 30 and 50 caddies in the “off-peak” months while maintaining as many as 80 during the height of golf season, the suit explains. Caddies are paid a fixed rate of $120 per bag directly by club members, the case says, and typically work up to 4.5 hours per round of the 18-hole course. On top of assisting club members on the golf course, however, caddies are also required to perform various unpaid, non-golf-related activities, such as cleaning the caddy locker room, folding towels, sweeping the patio and washing golf carts, the suit states.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that caddies have little control over their work schedules in that the caddy master defendant assigns at his discretion each caddy to a particular club member. Although caddies can choose the days they work, those who are not available on a daily basis “do not receive regular work assignments” and therefore may spend a whole day at the club without being paid at all, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit claims caddies are classified “as neither employee nor independent contractor” and consequently deprived of their rights, including the right to receive time-and-a-half overtime wages, under federal and state labor laws. The plaintiff, who worked at the club from 2003 to October 2019, says he typically put in up to 60 hours per week during the club’s open season between late April and early November, though his hours would often rise to 70 per week during the National’s 10 tournament weekends. The case claims the plaintiff and similarly situated workers never received proper overtime wages despite working more than 40 hours per week.