LOS ANGELES (CN) – Dancers at three “gentlemen’s clubs” have filed a class action claiming that managers illegally classify them as independent contractors, instead of employees, which allows the clubs to charge them to work instead of paying wages.
The clubs exercise control over dancers as though they are employees, including scheduling and requiring specific dance costumes, say lead plaintiffs Demetria Leshay and Roxanne Roberts. Calling dancer independent contractors, in name, lets the clubs duck taxes and violate labor laws and regulations, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs base their objection to independent contractor status on a 2003 5th Circuit decision, which found that dancers were employees, where clubs “exercised significant control over dancers’ behavior and opportunity for profit.”
Club decisions about dancers’ schedules also dictated the amount of “house” or “club fees” that management charges the dancers each shift, plaintiffs say. Clubs charge dancers less to work morning shifts than to work evening shifts.
Plaintiffs say the clubs regularly take a percentage of their tips, in violation of a 2001 California Department of Industrial Relations decision specifically prohibiting that. Also, club management requires dancers to give part of their tips to other club employees, such as bouncers, DJs, and wait staff.
The plaintiffs want back pay and fines. They are represented in Superior Court by Thomas Fox.