$10 Million Settlement for Strippers in CA, NV, TX, KY, FL, & ID

Stripper$$$

(4/11; CA, NV, TX, KY, FL, & ID)
If you’re a stripper & worked in specific strip clubs in CA, NV, TX, KY, FL, & ID, you might you might be entitled to backwages of minimum wages & recuperation of your stage fees (illegal tip sharing) that management required you to pay as a condition of your employment:

This is excerpted from the settlement motion Trauth v. Spearmint Rhino Companies Worldwide, Inc:

“On July 13, 2010, Plaintiffs Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 filed a putative class action complaint against Defendants Spearmint Rhino Companies Worldwide, Inc. (“Spearmint Rhino Co.”), Spearmint Rhino Consulting Worldwide, Inc. (“Spearmint Rhino Consulting”), K-Kel, Inc. (“K-Kel”), and Oxnard Hospitality Services, Inc. (“Oxnard”), alleging four claims:
(1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for failure to pay statutory minimum wages;
(2) violation of the California Labor Code for failure to pay statutory minimum wages;
(3) violation of the California Labor Code for unlawful tip splitting and acceptance of other payments from employees;
(4) violation of California Business and Profession Code § 17200, the Unfair Competition Act (“UCL”)

California (CA) Strip Clubs:
Downtown LA Club Venture, Inc., Farmdale Hospitality Services, Inc., High Expectations Hospitality, LLC, Inland Restaurant Venture I, Inc., K-Kel Inc., Kentucky Hospitality Venture LLC, LCM, LLC, Midnight Sun Enterprise, Inc., Olympic Avenue Venture, Inc., Rialto Pockets, Inc., Rouge Gentlmen’s Club, Inc., Santa Barbara Hospitality Services, Inc., Santa Maria Restaurant Enterprises, Inc., The Oxnard Hospitality Services, Inc., and WPB Hospitality, LLC

These clubs are supposed to “stop charging dancers “stage fees” within 30 days of the final settlement approval” and “discontinue the practice of treating dancers as independent contractors or lessees and shall likewise discontinue using any Dancer Performance Lease with Class Members” within six months of final settlement approval.”

In my personal opinion, class action lawsuits look good on paper but they have very limited worth if they end in a settlement and don’t go to trial. Settlements are just a slap on the strip club’s wrist. The problem is often that pro-dancer lawyers are content to settle rather than go all the way to trial. It’s a faster way for them to cash out sooner. It’s also cheaper for them as well as for the strip club to settle so they don’t have to spend labor & money on the trial.

From what I’ve seen of cases that go to trial, the dancers win on the same merits of their cases. But the more important thing about a trial win is that there’s a legal precedent that’s set with the case. With settlements, there’s no case law, which is exactly what the clubs want to avoid. After paying the settlement, it’s a matter of time before the strip clubs return to their shady labor practices.

Usually after strip clubs lose in the lawsuit (with both settlements & trial loses), they just reincarnate a different way to screw over the dancers “legally.” It usually looks like a whack piece-rate system where they may properly classify dancers as employees but then the strip club employers now legally “own” the strippers’ lapdances using a quota system. This is not unlike sweatshop workers in the garment industry who must produce so many widgets within a shift. So the club management now says, “We want each dancer to do 10 lapdances. And each lapdance is worth $25. And the club will do a 50%:50% split with the dancer on that lapdance.” It’s just a stage fee all over again–except this time is super inflated & the club owners claim it’s their legal right. It’s retaliation because the strip club management have a hard time letting go of the workers’ tips. Management refuse to comprehend that any policies they conjure to extract a worker’s tips are illegal. That’s why they loose these lawsuits time and time again as judges favor their awards to the exotic dancer workers.

If you are a stripper who is part of a settlement DO NOT SIGN A NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT!! You can usually get the clubs to drop this part of the settlement. They do this so that you’re not allowed to talk about the settlement or case. It’s a way they try to silence the workers yet again! More on this in a future post….

Comments
20 Responses to “$10 Million Settlement for Strippers in CA, NV, TX, KY, FL, & ID”
  1. That is crazy! I am glad you were able to put this information out there! Check out my blog where I have chronciled my profession thus far over the last several years… http://angeleyes37130.wordpress.com/

  2. Sinn Sage says:

    (sorry this took so long for me to do! very busy. :) )

    i was a stripper in many different clubs for 7 + years. over the past few years, i have received notices of class action lawsuits against these various corporate clubs. however, i am morally opposed to them because AS a dancer, we are required to READ AND SIGN CONTRACTS that designate us as independent contractors, renting space from the club to perform our jobs. i DO NOT work for the club, i rent a space there. now, if a club requires me to be on a schedule, i do believe that there is a conflict of interest there. if i am truly an independent contractor, i should be able to show up as often as i want, whenever i want. however, i DO get to SET my own hours, and do not have to work when they tell me to (which they never did). for the most part, i can wear what i want, dance to what i want, and dance FOR whomever i choose. every club i’ve ever worked at, i knowingly and willingly signed that contract, and i knew exactly what it said. if other dancers CHOSE to use that space to ‘prostitute’ themselves, as disappointed as that might have made me for creating what i saw as unfair competition, that was THEIR choice to make. NO ONE pushed them in to it. the fees i paid out of my dances i understood were my share of rent for not only utilizing their facilities to make money, but also taking advantage of their advertisements (bringing customers ie. money to me) and security (making sure i wasn’t assaulted). i feel that many dancers get irritated when they don’t make money and want to place blame on the establishment, when truly it is their own fault for becoming lazy and unmotivated to actually work the room and try to ‘hustle’, or for having a bad attitude towards customers and in general. i too have many times felt awful handing over what felt like a huge chunk of money on a bad night, but we MUST keep in mind that this is how a place stays in business, and how a business functions, especially when it employs independent contractors.
    i would love to hear any and all arguments to this case. sinnsage@gmail.com
    -sinn

    • HI, Sinn-
      Thanks for your response!

      The contracts that workers sign are worthless because they are non-negotiable. If you didn’t sign it, you wouldn’t be allowed to work. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter if you WANT to be an independent contractor or even if strip club management gives you the “choice” between choosing not be a employee. The reality is that ALL STRIPPERS ARE EMPLOYEES. The IRS, National Relations Labor Board, Department of Labor & state Labor Commissions use very specific criteria (about 11 to 13 tests) to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Nearly every state has consistently ruled time & time again that strippers are in fact employees & that club owners & management have to abide by the same rules that are expected of any employer. That’s why the strip clubs keep loosing these lawsuits & the dancers always win back their back pay of minimum wages, overtime, & stage fees. Many even win “uniform” & make up costs as well as the mandatory tips outs that strippers must cash out to the DJs, house moms, managers, etc. The strippers wouldn’t be winning their cases if these conditions were legal. That means that current & past labor practices the clubs engage in are ILLEGAL. Bottom line: the tips that strippers make are theirs. It’s illegal for an employer to take any portion of it. That’s why these women are winning their cases and recuperating the money they paid to the club that was from their tips. They’re also winning because they are employees who haven’t been paid even minimum wages & overtime (where it applies).

      If you’d like further proof that strippers are employees, check out the countless other posts on this blog. Better yet, dig deeper & contact the lawyers on both sides of this issue to find out why the legal ruling went in favor of the Exotic Dancers. It is important that workers in the more legal arena of the sex industry across the nation are standing up individually & collectively to say that they deserve to have their labor rights recognized. To learn more about your rights, lease check out “Stripper Labor Rights 101″ (http://licensetopimp.com/stripper-labor-rights-101/). There is also a “Resources” page that includes links to pro-workers rights legal clinics who can help strippers based in San Francisco file for their stage fees & back wages: http://licensetopimp.com/resources/

      If you’re a stripper who is reading this post, make sure to learn what your labor rights are–don’t take my word for it! For women who are outside of California, contact your local state Labor Commission & ask them what criteria is used to determine whether you’re an employee or not. It’s difficult to stand up for your rights in the highly competitive environment of the strip clubs when other dancers will rat you out & when the management look for any signs of dissent to fire workers. Unfortunately, these are the very divisive conditions which allow the strip clubs to continue their illegal practices.

      Sinn, It’s great that you don’t feel the pressure to prostitute when you strip. But the reality is that there are tons of strippers who are prostituting just to pay their stage fees. When clubs charged dancers even $50 to work, I’d see girls turn tricks–not because they were lazy. Everybody has bad nights, but when you’ve got to pay $100-600 stage fees, there’s only so much lapdancing you can do to make the management’s pimp fees. Everyone knows sex sells. And sex is what is selling in the majority of strip clubs.

      To help facilitate the prostitution, the strip clubs have deliberately created private booths, enclosed VIP areas, & other more private spaces so that women can prostitute to come up with their fees. One dancer told me that women at her club did prostitution by positioning themselves around tall, potted plants. The attitude amongst the women who supposedly don’t need to prostitute is that they’re better than the prostitute because they apply themselves. I worked alongside women who kept their prostitution a secret for fear of being ostracized by other dancers. But do you think management really care if a girl prostitutes? Management’s bottom-line is whether a woman can pay her stage fees. Management is profit-driven. And more specifically, they are interested in taking as much of the dancers’ tips as possible. I’ve had several managers directly instruct and encourage me to prostitute to make my stage fees.

      I don’t have a problem if a woman chooses to engage in prostitution but I don’t think that the strip clubs are the place for that to happen. And there’s a difference between consensual and coerced prostitution. Women like myself felt OK with stripping because this job didn’t require us to prostitute. But this is far from the reality today where the stage fees & private booths create environments where the strip clubs often operate as underground brothels. Women who walk in intending to be strippers end up leaving becoming prostitutes. And prostitutes who know which strip clubs allow prostitution happen come to these clubs so that they can more easily access customers. Customers come to the strip clubs because some feel they’re arrest-free zones where they can more easily find a prostitute.

      Also, it’s totally possible for strip club employers to permit their dancer employees to wear whatever they want, dance to whatever music they like, and have a more flexible scheduling arrangement. It’s because they want to power trip or else create a certain upscale atmosphere that the clubs place those restrictions.

      • Sinn Sage says:

        i appreciate your stance, and especially anyone who wants to work for strippers to have more rights. however, if we *were* employees and treated as such, then wouldn’t the managers be able to make our schedules, force us to work whenever THEY wanted us to, for as long as they wanted us to, make us wear a uniform that they dictate, choose whether or not and when to have vacations, tell us who to dance for/with/on, and most importantly, only pay us minimum wage or whatever wage they decide, and then if we were still allowed to collect tips (as, say, a waitress would), force us to claim 100% of our tips?
        these are the things that i would be concerned with if dancers were truly employees and treated as such.
        i am now in porn, and Cal/OSHA is trying to state that according to the gov’t we are employees of the producers who hire us and NOT independent contractors, and must therefore follow osha’s standards with regards to bodily fluids. but it seems clear to me that we ARE independent contractors-i decide who i work for and with and when. i am offered jobs that i can take or decline. i and i alone am responsible for my taxes-keeping track of my income and work-related expenses. how am i an employee when i am my own boss?
        as for stripping-i can only speak for myself. but if a place charged me a flat rate for the night, the most i ever paid was 150$ which i thought was a lot, but then that night i worked hard and made the most i’ve ever made in one night. usually they charge out of each dance, but the ratio of that still leaves me making more money than the club, by a wide margin. even on my worst nights, i was STILL making WAY more than i would have if i was only being paid minimum wage. in these lawsuits girls are claiming that they never got the minimum wages they deserved-but if things actually worked that way, then wouldn’t we be making ONLY minimum wage? i don’t want to take my clothes off for 8$ an hour! if that were the case, i would never be a stripper! or do they want minimum wage ON TOP of the tips they bring in for dances? compared to making 200+ a night, who cares about an extra appx 60$ minus taxes? as for breaks, i could sit in the dressing room as long as i wanted whenever i wanted. i’ve worked in probably 30 different clubs (maybe more-it’s hard to say after so many years), in 8 different states, and felt treated fairly in each one. i’ve worked at the most notoriously dirty club in the country, which is in southern california, and no girl kept it in the closet what she was doing-they spoke openly about their prostitution, passed around condoms in the dressing room, and the managers would turn their heads. of course they and we all knew full well what was going on, but although i chose not to participate in the prostitution, no one ever asked me to or pressured me to except the customers. although i feel also that a strip club is not the appropriate place to prostitute, they were CERTAINLY NOT doing it out of desperation to make the stage fees-these girls were making bank for themselves, driving escalades and buying houses. the tipping out was excessive however. but, to compare again to working in a restaurant, i don’t mind tipping people who are helping me work safely and make money, as i would tip the bartenders and bussers when i worked as a waitress.
        i am also curious-is it your belief then that we should work at a club and make money and pay the club absolutely nothing? then the club would only make money on entrance fees and drinks (which at a nude club is generally only soda)? they would have to hike entrance fees so high patrons would stop coming, or else other aspects of the club would suffer-cleanliness, advertising, security…
        i am NOT trying to argue negatively-i am only asking to understand more your side and view on this particular subject. i actually appreciate your response!
        -sinn

      • sinnsage says:

        i haven’t heard back from you since my previous post, i was hoping for some sort of logical rebuttal…please either post one here or email it to me: sinnsage@gmail.com
        thanks!
        -sinn

      • Then why would a city make a dancer get a business license?????

      • Unfortunately, city officials still need to catch up to labor laws regarding strippers & stop being part of a system that helps misclassify strippers as independent contractors. NO EMPLOYEES are required to have business licenses. And neither should strippers.

  3. VIC says:

    on the surface a class action seems good idea .. BUT ladies think about this, once your an employee things will get worse for you … YOU will be told you cant work this or that night … you will be given set schedules that you cant fight cuz now your an employee … Yes I know owners were asking alog of you but the way it was is the best way to go … Lets say that you want to take a week off, or not work New Years, or your birthday, or wanna take a weekend away to VEGAS. Well now your gonna have to ASK FOR THAT TIME OFF (cuz your an employee) when before you could just take off and come back … Now thanks to all these class actions lawsuits, you just screwed yourself and all the other dancers.

    • Actually, what you say isn’t entirely true. The management already has control over you. If they really wanted to be assholes, they could go the route of trying to make your job unbearable. They could also continue certain practices like allowing women to say which nights they prefer to work, having a lenient policy so that you can decide not to work a week or month if you wished to take time off. At the end of the day, it’s not up to the management or stripper to decide whether their relationship is employer-employee. It’s about the way the business is set up. The reality is that the way clubs run their businesses, the strippers can’t be anything but employees.

      And don’t be fooled into thinking that being an independent contractor offers you freedom. Being an employee carries far more perks & employee rights protections that the management won’t tell you about.

  4. Captain America says:

    I have managed clubs for many years. If clubs had to start paying girls to work, they would need to take a large percentage of there dances to exhist. The losers in this are the dancers who will no longer have a place to work or be giving up a lot of there income. I don’t know to many businesses that people with very little education can make anywhere near the income they do. The strip club business is very difficult and competitive. Dancers, be happy you have places to work at a daily rent rate with the opportunity to make great money. Take a good look at your education, then head to the nearest Wallmart and see if you can even get hired there. Clubs have to exhist with policies and rules, they can not be made by dancers. Personal trainers and hair stylists work as independent contractors and pay monthly rent. No lawsuits from them. When dancers start making policy, the clubs will close. If you don’t like it, try opening your own!!!

    • an educated dancer! says:

      Captain America that is a very nasty statement. Ive been a dancer for 11 years under 2 different owners inthe same club. The current owner treats us as employees without the benefits. Further more I am an educated woman as are several of my fellow dancers, and I dont just mean high school. If I am taxed as an independant contractor I should be treated as one! NOT treated as an employee and taxed as an independant contractor. Personal Trainers and Hair Stylists are not told how many clients they must service or what hours they must work. WE ARE! Try working as a dancer once and see how you like it!

      • CriCkEt says:

        I agree, they should not treat you as employee. Clubs are all different. Sounds like the ones you are at have more strict rules for independents. Keep something in mind though, hair stylists, personal trainers, independent massage therapists all have to come up with there clients through there own marketing expenses. A strip club provides the clients for you. Many strip clubs today now have to pay to bring customers in.

    • flowerchild says:

      I have a master’s degree. I choose to work as a stripper because it is a well paid rewarding job that is extremely in demand. No one needs to have an education to make money. The fact is men come to strip clubs to be with women. They pay large sums of money for the privilege. The women SHOULD BE receiving the money that is being spent on them. The money should not go to the owner/manager. The owners/managers should be grateful to receive the side benefits: Drinks. They can sell drinks at higher prices than a regular bar. Club profits should not infringe on women’s profits too. They should not be demanding money from the women for creating the atmosphere which sells high priced drinks. If they are not satisfied to sell a drink at upwards of 3x normal rate- then let them close. Let them try and open a regular bar!
      At this point Managers/owners are behaving as legal pimps. Managers/owners have become greedy -like typical pimps. They should NEVER be making more than an average dancer that is doing all the work of keeping the men there.

  5. Ubbergirl says:

    This Rhino owner has a history of fraud, and not
    paying his bills. Seems he would rather pay his time I jail. Wow $13 mill is a tremendous amount of money. Is that going to be cash, check, or credit.

  6. my site says:

    Hi to every one, as I am in fact keen of reading this website’s post to be updated regularly. It consists of fastidious material.

  7. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board
    and I find It really useful & it helped me out much.
    I hope to give something back and help others like you aided me.

  8. If we could move beyond the independent contractor misclassification and really talk about what being an employee means & what rights strippers have & what responsibilities the strip club management have, then we’d be able to talk about the illegal tip out scam that the clubs have going on as well as avoiding paying their workers wages. Unfortunately, the salacious performances within a stripper’s workday are what most inquiring minds want to know in an age of tabloid headlines.

  9. Empress says:

    Thanks so much for this information. I, along with several other EMPLOYEES, will be filing a suit. I have been fired a couple times, unlawfully, overcharged, fined, restricted, and much more. Its time to put a stop to the abuse. The working conditions are unbearable, too hot, too cold, dirty, unkept, unsanitary, and worse. Thanks for giving me the information I needed to pursue this matter legally and make them pay! I think i tallied up over $15,000 in backpay!

  10. I’d strongly suggest that you seek out a local nonprofit employment clinic (like Legal Aid Society) rather than going to a private lawyer. Class actions get dragged out over years, the lawyers take about 30% of your wages, & often settle with the clubs so there’s no legal precedent set requiring that they recognize all strippers as employees. Check out the Resources page for License to Pimp & talk to the employment clinics–they might be able to make a referral. I’d double check your wage/stage fee calculations cause it seems pretty low. If you worked even 1 year (40 hours/week) & paid a minimum of $50 in stage fees, you are entitled to nearly $30,000. And sign up for the film’s Mailing List as I will be posting more info about strippers’ labor rights in the months ahead. Good luck!!

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] It was an interesting read despite the opening sentences: “Six nude nymphs rise into the air. Writhing together, they kiss and giggle, licking one anothers’ perfect pussies, nibbling nipples, tickling and fondling pert breasts.” What else do you expect when you have to sandwich something substantial in between a photo editorial of a woman whose “favorite pastimes” are “tanning, exhibitionism, and masturbating” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and an illustration of Abe Lincoln with a raging boner? I learned a few things, most notably that very little has changed. The independent contractor vs. employee debate is just as relevant as ever. [...]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 851 other followers