Lawsuit accuses Grand Strand golf courses of violating labor laws

09/17/2013 9:53 AM

09/17/2013 10:01 AM

Real estate developer Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. and National Golf Management LLC, which owns or manages nearly one-third of the Grand Strand's golf courses, are facing allegations that they violated federal labor laws by failing to pay employees minimum wage and overtime pay, according to a collective-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Florence.

Alan Dutil, who worked as a bag drop attendant at one of the companies' golf courses beginning in May 2011, says he was forced to work for $5.80 per hour -- less than the $7.25 federal minimum wage -- and was refused overtime even though he regularly worked 50 or more hours per week, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks to include all of the companies' golf course employees in Horry and Georgetown counties and in Brunswick County, N.C., who allegedly were underpaid by allowing them to opt in to the legal action. Bill Luse, a Myrtle Beach lawyer representing Dutil, said he does not know how many employees might be eligible to join the lawsuit.

Lei Gainer, a spokeswoman for Burroughs & Chapin, said the company does not comment on pending legal matters. Steve Mays, a spokesman for National Golf Management, could not be reached for comment.

Dutil, in the complaint, said he would have been fired if he refused to work for less than the minimum wage and without overtime pay. Bag attendants typically transfer customers' golf bags to carts and help keep the cart staging area near the clubhouse organized. In addition to regular pay, most bag attendants receive gratuities from players.

Neither Burroughs & Chapin nor National Golf Management have filed an answer to Dutil's complaint and no court hearings have been scheduled.

National Golf Management was formed in 2012 when Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management and Myrtle Beach National Co. merged to become the 15th-largest company of its kind in the country. The joint venture owns 15 courses and manages eight others. Among the courses the company owns are: Pine Lakes Country Club, King's North at Myrtle Beach National, the Grande Dunes Resort Course and Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club. The company also manages Wild Wing Planation and Tidewater Plantation and Golf, among other properties.

In addition to its courses, National Golf Management books about 60 percent of all tee times along the Grand Strand

Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.

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