January 22, 2019 – San Diego, CA. News coming out of Georgia highlights the growing concern on employment laws in strip-clubs across the nation. Today we’re seeing a new wrinkle in the ongoing employment classification wars.
Amanda Berry works at the popular Pin Ups club based in Atlanta and claims she was fired for simply being pregnant. She has filed a lawsuit last month alleging Pin Ups owners misclassified her and another worker as independent contractors and not as actual employees. They were only paid tips from customers, not state mandated minimum wages. Many times they worked over 40 hours in a week without any overtime pay.
Pin Ups also allegedly has “fines” for not appearing on stage on time, not being dressed and ready to dance within 30 minutes of arriving to work, and demanding absurd daily fees from $35.00 up to $95.00 for “DJ fees” and “breathalyzer fees”.
At these rates are the dancers actually making money or losing money every time they simply go to work? The newest form of unfair pay at strip-clubs is, and we’re not making this up, includes a “leave early fee” and also “slow day fees”. All of these so-called “fees” are in fact illegal.
This isn’t the first time strip-clubs have come under scrutiny. Many clubs are now facing violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Let’s take a look at the issues facing women working in strip-clubs or gentlemen’s clubs.
First let’s ask the most common question these workers have: Are strippers, topless dancers or exotic dancers an “employee” or “independent contractor”?
Many clubs today will often seek to categorize the dancers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. This tactic allows these clubs to avoid following the rules set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, known as FLSA laws.
However, gentlemen’s clubs or stripper bars can’t just state that a dancer is an independent contractor and make it true – certain legal requirements must be met; otherwise, the dancer is actually an employee. We understand the FLSA laws in every state, and strip club owners and operators must adhere to these laws.
Classifying exotic dancers as independent contractors is illegal in almost every state.
All of these women have rights to be classified as actual employees of the club. In fact if they aren’t that’s against the law. FLSA standards are in place and sued to help business owners correctly classify employees. Most do this, however it seems the exotic dancers industry ignores many of these laws.
Examples of Strip Club and Gentleman’s club unfair pay lawsuits.
There have been many of these strip club class action lawsuits across the country. Let’s take a look at some of these lawsuits.
- In 2009 Galardi South Enterprises, who owns The Onyx adult club, settled out of court for $1.55 million to pay 73 former dancers, which equals $21,233 per dancer.
- Pinups Nightclub based in Atlanta Georgia was successfully sued in October 2013 by former strippers. Management had classified them as independent contractors, not as employees. U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. stated: “It is clear that the Plaintiffs were “employees” under the FLSA.”
- Based in New York City, Rick’s Cabaret had to pay a group of 2,000 dancers $10 million in a class action suit against their employer in 2014.
- Los Angeles, in April 2015 close to 250 exotic dancers at Paradise Showgirls were awarded $6.5 million after accusing a strip club of keeping their wages after performing private dances or “lap” dances for customers.
- Fuego Exotic Dance Club and Extasy Exotic Dance Club in Maryland had a lawsuit upheld in favor of the dancers who claimed they had to pay a “tip in” fee of $50 per shift worked. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in the decision – “Defendants asked all hired dancers to sign agreements titled ‘Space/Lease Rental Agreement of Business Space’ that explicitly categorized dancers as independent contractors.”
- As reported by WXYZ-TV in Detroit on July 7, 2017, both the Penthouse Club and the Coliseum Clubs are being sued.
- Also in Detroit, a national strip club chain Déjà Vu (who operates 60 clubs and 28,000 dancers) settled out of court for $6.5 million dollars.
Read more about current strip club lawsuits.