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Exotic Dancers Win Minimum Wage Lawsuit

A court has determined that exotic dancers who performed at Rick’s Cabaret, an adult nightclub in New York, were employees covered by federal and state wage laws. A class action consisting of strippers sued the night club where they worked for unpaid minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage laws. The gentlemen’s club did not pay the dancers any wages, took a portion of the dancers’ performance fees, and imposed fines if the dancers violated certain rules. The adult nightclub claimed unsuccessfully that the dancers were not covered by the minimum wage laws because they were independent contractors. The court determined the exotic dancers were employees, not independent contractors, because the club exercised so much control over the adult dancers that it could be described as “micromanagement.” For example, the club required the exotic dancers to work eight hour shifts, wear stiletto heels that were a least 4 inches high, prohibited body glitter, and required any tattoos to be covered by make-up. The court in the Rick’s Cabaret case also rejected the employer’s argument that the performance fees paid to the dancers by customers could be used to meet the employer’s wage requirements because the employer did not make the performance fees part of its gross receipts, and distribute from its gross receipts some of those performance fees back to the exotic dancers. Thus, the court held that the performance fees were tips in which the gentlemen’s club was not allowed share, and were not service fees. The court’s conclusion in the Rick’s Cabaret case that the exotic dancers were covered by the wage laws was in line with many other courts. It also followed an $8,000,000 class action settlement between New York City’s Penthouse Executive Club and its adult dancers.

If you believe your employer has been illegally treating you as an independent contractor, has been stealing some of your tips, or violating the overtime and unpaid wage laws in Florida, call our unpaid wage attorney at Bober & Bober, P.A. at 800-995-9243 for a fee consultation.

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