New Jersey officials are seeking nearly $597,000 from the former owner of Resorts Casino Hotel to compensate hundreds of current and former employees for their unused vacation time.

However, the state Department of Labor could not say with certainty that Resorts International Hotel Inc. will pay the 678 employees what they are owed.

“We cannot postulate whether the efforts to collect the judgment will be successful or unsuccessful,” Labor spokeswoman Kerri Gatling wrote in an email.

The matter has been turned over to New Jersey’s Division of Law to try to collect the money. In February 2012, the Department of Labor won a $596,927 judgment against Resorts International Hotel on behalf of the casino employees, Gatling said. Labor officials disclosed the judgment this week following inquiries by The Press of Atlantic City.

Resorts International Hotel, or RIH, owned Resorts until the casino defaulted on its $360 million mortgage, allowing a group of lenders to take control in 2009. The lenders sold Atlantic City’s oldest casino to New York real estate magnate Morris Bailey and his now-deceased partner, Dennis Gomes, for $31.5 million in December 2010.

RIH, which continued to operate the casino for the lenders before it was sold, told employees in an Oct. 18, 2010, memo: “It is our intention to pay earned but unused vacation, however, we cannot guarantee that this will happen.”

Employees began filing complaints with the Department of Labor in December 2010 after they did not receive their vacation compensation. The action is against RIH and “has nothing to do” with Resorts’ current ownership, casino spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham said. Gatling also confirmed that Resorts’ current ownership is not involved in the judgment.

RIH was part of Resorts’ former ownership structure under parent company Colony Capital LLC, a California-based private real estate investment group headed by billionaire Thomas Barrack. Colony spokeswoman Lisa Baker declined to comment about RIH’s vacation pay dispute.

Dianne Simpson, a former credit executive at Resorts, said employees are frustrated with having to wait so long to receive compensation. Simpson, 63, of Northfield, is seeking $2,505 for her unused vacation time. She believes RIH allocated money for unused vacation time for all employees, but somehow it has disappeared.

“I believe the money is somewhere,” Simpson said. “So where did it go? There’s got to be money somewhere.”

Simpson, who worked at Resorts from 1979 to 2012, said the employees who stayed at the casino after the 2010 ownership change are the ones who did not get paid for unused vacation time. Those who left were paid, she added.

“Had the 678 employees who filed complaints with the New Jersey Department of Labor not decided to go with the new Resorts and left on their own, they would have received their last paycheck and any vacation pay,” she said.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:

609-272-7258