Strippers Win $13 Million Class Settlement


     LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge approved a $12.9 million class settlement for exotic dancers who claimed strip clubs denied them benefits by calling them independent contractors.
     More than a dozen dancers settled the 3-year-old class action with several operators of adult entertainment clubs.
     Among other abuses, the dancers claimed that clubs helped themselves to more than half their tips, penalized them for not selling enough drinks to customers, and made them pay stage fees.
     Defendants included the Spearmint Rhino nightclub .
     Under the terms of the settlement, the clubs will treat dancers as either employees, partners or shareholders in their businesses, and in California, dancers will no longer have to cough up pay-to-perform fees.
     After deductions for administrative and legal costs, 50.14 percent of the settlement fund will be paid on a claims-made basis to California dancers, roughly 42.69 percent to Nevada dancers, and 7.16 percent to dancers in Kentucky, Idaho, Texas, Nevada and Florida.
     Dancers who do not make a written claim to the fund will not be paid; any remaining funds will go back to the strip clubs.
     U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips also granted in part the dancers' request for attorney fees.
     Phillips concluded that fees charged by the dancers' attorneys were reasonable, but reduced the fees for time attorneys charged for "irrelevant issues," including certain applications to the court and administrative tasks.
     Phillips noted that some attorneys had charged for reviewing court notices for their own "filing deficiencies," and had billed too much for reviewing minute orders of the court.
     "The court finds it indefensible that an attorney who had attended the hearing would then charge for 24 minutes of his time to review the clerk's two or three sentence minute order, or even six minutes to do so," Phillips wrote in her 30-page order.
     The court approved $2.3 million in fees to dancers and more than $73,000 in costs, plus incentive fees for the time the named dancers spent on the case, and the "professional and personal risk" of being named as lead plaintiffs in the class action.