Strippers bare woes in lawsuits against Cheetah’s Lounge and Crazy Horse Too (Las Vegas)
(Mar. 28, 1997, Las Vegas, NV)
Exotic dancers seek $30,000 each to cover back pay and tips they say are due them the past two years.
Las Vegas strippers have filed a lawsuit charging topless clubs with illegal labor practices for not paying them minimum wage and forcing them to share their tips with club owners.
Filed Thursday in District Court, the lawsuit asks for class-action status to cover all exotic dancers who have worked in Las Vegas clubs the past two years. Only Cheetah’s Lounge and Crazy Horse Too are named in the complaint, but other unnamed clubs could be liable if a judge grants class-action status.
The unnamed strippers in the case received only tips for their work at the clubs, according to attorney Ara Shirinian. In return for being allowed to work at the clubs, the strippers are required to “tip-out” at the end of shifts by giving the club owner $30, according to the lawsuit. The practice of requiring this payment is illegal under Nevada law, Shirinian claimed. “I don’t know any plumber who has to pay a $100 dollars to work on someone’s house,” he said. Also, he said most adult clubs consider the strippers “independent contractors,” which means they are exempt from minimum wage rules. But the clubs set strict standards of behavior that belies their independence claim, he said.
For example, the lawsuit claims strippers must accept any drink bought for them by a patron. Turning down a drink is punishable by a $5 fine. Smoking in front of customers could cost a dancer $10 and dancing too close to a customer could cost $20. Strippers are required to entice customers into buying them drinks and are prohibited from dating or socializing with customers outside of work, the suit claims. They are not paid overtime but are often required to work shifts longer than eight hours and are only allowed to leave the premises with permission of the management.
The lawsuit asks for about $30,000 per stripper to cover back pay and paid-out tips for the past two years. Shirinian estimates there would be 600 eligible class members at Cheetah’s and Crazy Horse Too alone. “All we are asking is they get paid the same as waiters and busboys who get tips but don’t have to share them. We are asking to be treated like any other service professions in this town,” Shirinian said.
Officials at Cheetah’s and Crazy Horse Too said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment at this time.
author: Caren Benjamin