Marin Independent Journal: Lawsuit Accuses Mill Valley Travel Company of Wage Violations

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Marin Independent Journal: Lawsuit Accuses Mill Valley Travel Company of Wage Violations

Marin Independent Journal: Lawsuit Accuses Mill Valley Travel Company of Wage Violations

“Lawsuit Accuses Mill Valley Travel Company of Wage Violations”
Marin Independent Journal, February 22, 2012

A Mill Valley travel company is facing a lawsuit by two former tour guides who claim their compensation amounted to about $3 an hour.

Peter Wright and Michelle Trame are demanding unpaid wages and restitution from Adventures Cross-Country and its president, Scott von Eschen. The company organizes group tours for teenagers in the United States and abroad.

Wright and Trame say they worked for the company for about 35 days in 2009. Wright, a San Francisco resident, led a 24-day trip to Italy and Greece, while Trame, a Livermore resident, led a 24-day trip to Costa Rica and Belize. The trips followed 10 days of employee training at the company’s headquarters.

The plaintiffs claim they worked 12 to 16 hours a day on their trips, with no rest time or meal breaks, and were essentially “babysitting” the teens around the clock.

Wright was paid about $1,000 for more than 350 hours of work, while Trame was paid $1,080 over the same period, according to the lawsuit. The suit claims wage and overtime violations, breach of contract and other allegations.

Their attorneys, David Lowe and Bryan Schwartz, are seeking class-action status on behalf of potentially hundreds of current and former tour guides. The lawsuit was filed last week in Marin Superior Court.

Von Eschen, reached at the company Wednesday, said he did not wish to comment on pending litigation.

“Our lawyers tell us it’s without merit and we’ll deal with it in the courts,” said Von Eschen, who co-founded the company in 1983. “Hopefully it’ll be a quick process.”

According to the “job opportunities” section of the Adventures Cross-Country website, trip leaders guide groups of up to 18 teens, with first-year salaries of $1,000 to $1,600. The company pays living and travel expenses on the trips, which are organized around themes such as outdoor sports, language immersion or community service.

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