Valets at Bohemian Grove, the ultra-elite private resort in the redwoods of Monte Rio owned by the Bohemian Club, just won a significant settlement from the 144-year-old private gentlemen's club. As the Chronicle reports, a group of 600 current and former employees at the Grove filed a class action lawsuit last year claiming that they had been overworked and underpaid during the summer retreats that were hosted there between 2011 and 2014. Allegations included a denial of overtime pay despite being on call 24 hours a day, often working 16- and 18-hour days without days off, and adhering to strict dress codes.

Work included serving cocktails and cleaning, as well as catering to the needs of invited guests.

And, just as Uber and Lyft and many other gig economy apps have been accused of improperly doing under state labor laws, the Bohemian Club apparently treated the workers, many of whom worked for the organization for many years, as independent contractors.

Rather than let the suit go to court, the Club has settled the class action for $7 million, or an average settlement of $11,667 per employee.

Part of the suit also alleges that representatives of the Club attempted to squelch the class action at the end of the summer season in 2014 by offering employees envelopes of extra cash.

Local PR fixer Sam Singer issued a statement on behalf of the Club stipulating that the organization admits no wrongdoing, and saying, "The camps at the Bohemian Grove treat their valets very well. They are beloved members of the family. Many of them serve for generations at different camps within the grove. Unfortunately, in the world of courtroom law, it takes more money to prove your innocence than it does to settle in cases like this."

Bohemian Grove was notably the site of annual protests, up until a few years ago, from various leftist activists who converged there because it was a gathering spot of powerful national and world leaders. As one frequent protester put it to the New York Times in 2010, "Bohemian Grove allowed us to build coalitions. Because whatever your issue was, someone in there was making money off it."

It's said that the Manhattan Project was conceived at Bohemian Grove in 1942, and that Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon came to an agreement there in 1967 over which man would seek the presidency first. There have been various rumors of bizarre rituals, fraternity-like behavior, public urination, and general debauchery among the 2,500 men who aren invited annually to the three weeks of retreats — it began in 1872 as an organization for San Francisco journalists and actual "bohemians" like artists and musicians, but eventually by the 1900's membership and the summer invite list was opened up to businessmen and politicians.

Learn more about the various camps, parties, productions, and rituals in this sociological paper from UC Santa Cruz professor G. William Domhoff.

As Singer told the Times six years ago, "This is two weeks, over the course of a year, when a group of gentlemen enjoy close friendships, current events and theatrical productions, without needing to see it on the front page of The Times or The Post.” And, he added, "People do urinate on redwoods, [not as part of any ritual, but] as the need becomes necessary.”

Previously: Bohemian Grove Attracting Fewer Protesters These Days