A new lawsuit claims that owners of Los Gatos nudist resort Lupin Lodge have effectively reduced dozens of live-in workers to indentured servitude.
Dara McClellan, a live-in employee since 2007, says Lupin’s husband-and-wife proprietors, Glyn and Lori Kay Stout, had her work 30 hours a week in exchange for food and lodging.
But McClellan claims she never signed a written agreement and never got overtime, meal breaks, compensation for a lack of meal breaks or reimbursement for any expenses. She further alleges that she never earned actual wages, endured legally substandard housing and that the room-and-board arrangement evened out to less than the statewide minimum wage.
The class action lawsuit filed Friday in Santa Clara County Superior Court has identified at least 35 others who worked under similar conditions. It demands a jury trial, injunctive relief, back pay and compensation for legal fees. The Stouts, who also face felony water theft charges in criminal court, have yet to return requests for comment.
San Jose Inside reported on the illegal living and work conditions at Lupin in July, which prompted some of the residents to seek legal help. The resort has been sued in the past for violating labor laws.
“This is one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen,” McClellan’s lawyer Amy Carlson says. “It’s horrible … these people are stuck, they have no money, nothing for a deposit to move anywhere else, and they’re afraid to say anything because they don’t want to be homeless. To me, that is human trafficking.”
The lawsuit also names Charles Perkins (no relation to the Los Gatos attorney of the same name), Michael Fjelstad and Bradley Chibos as defendants. Two of those three—Fjelstad and Chibos—are practicing attorneys who sit on Lupin’s board of directors and, according to McClellan’s claim, knew full well about worker exploitation yet did nothing to prevent it.