Daufuskie Island’s troubled Melrose Resort and its owners are being sued by a former employer who claims she worked for two months without pay.
That employee, Tamar Berg, filed suit last week against the bankrupt resort, its developer the Pelorus Group, and that company’s owner J.T. Bramlette, court documents show.
Berg, who began working at the resort in June 2015, went without a paycheck from Aug. 15, 2016 through Oct. 19, 2016, the suit claims.
“Although Pelorus had ceased payment of wages ... Berg was encouraged to remain working with a promise (of) wage payments in the near future,” according to the suit.
Withholding Berg’s pay was “willful, without justification, in violation of the (law), and in violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing,” the suit said.
The suit asks the court to demand the resort and its owners provide “a complete and accurate accounting of the wages owed to Berg,” and compensate her for those earnings, damages, legal fees, and other related costs.
A letter — signed by Bramlette and included in court documents — informs employees that after Oct. 19, 2016 the resort “will no longer be able to utilize your services.”
“We are working as quickly as possible to get you paid in full,” the letter said.
A resort spokesperson declined to comment on Berg’s suit.
Calls to Scott Wild, Berg’s Hilton Head Island-based attorney, were not returned.
Bramlette and the Pelorus Group are no strangers to controversy.
Affiliates of Utah-based resort developer, which purchased the Melrose Resort property in 2011, filed for Chapter 11 protection last month and stalled an impending foreclosure sale.
The companies — whose island holdings include a restaurant, beach cottages, an inn, a ferry landing and a golf course — owe creditors nearly $35 million, according to court documents.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigators in California recently sought financial documents from the resort developer in an attempt to locate about $22 million in unaccounted for investment cash possibly lost in what court documents describe as a potential “Ponzi-like scheme.”
That inquiry stemmed from a series of earlier investigations into possible federal securities law violations by several investment and wealth management firms with alleged ties to Bramlette and the Pelorus Group.
Last year, the company and its affiliates owed Beaufort County nearly $500,000 in unpaid property taxes.
In 2015, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control discovered two underground tanks used to store gasoline and diesel fuel at the boat landing were not in compliance with state regulations. A Pelorus Group subsidiary was hit with a $35,000 fine.
Bramlette is personally listed as a defendant in at least five Beaufort County civil lawsuits since 2013.