Class Action Lawsuit filed against Sapphire (Las Vegas, NV)

Las Vegas: Sapphire Genteman's Club



(2009; Las Vegas, NV)

The suit against Sapphire Gentleman’s Club follows a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court last year allowing a similar class-action lawsuit against another topless club to proceed under state law claims.

The suit was filed in Clark County District Court on behalf of dancer Zuri-Kinshasa Maria Terry by lawyers including Robert Starr of Woodland Hills, Calif., who has a Web site called exoticdancerrights.com.

Also involved in the suit is Tucson attorney Mick Rusing, who was involved in the case resulting in last year’s Supreme Court decision. Local lawyers involved in this case are Thomas Christensen and Ryan Anderson of the Christensen Law office.

If certified as a class-action, the lawsuit says it could represent some 5,000 Sapphire dancers, including current and future dancers as well as those who danced at the club full or part-time during the past two years. Sapphire bills itself as the world’s largest gentlemen’s club with some 400 dancers nightly. While independent contractor arrangements are the standard practice in the industry, the lawsuit claims Sapphire has so many rules governing the dancers’ working conditions that they don’t qualify as independent contractors.

Dancers, for instance, are required to work a minimum number of hours — six or longer — per shift, the suit claims. It says they are prohibited from leaving the premises during their shift, can’t leave with customers, can’t date or socialize with customers during their off hours and must entertain customers “according to means and methods prescribed by” management.

They must pay club managers and employees for the right to work at the club, charge minimum fixed fees for table and lap dances, promote sales of alcohol and other drinks, accept offers of drinks from customers, appear on stage to dance at fixed times, comply with a dress code and wear approved costumes and uniforms, the suit charges.

Failure to follow the rules will result in suspension or termination, the lawsuit charges. “Such rules and regulations and control over the means and methods of dance and conditions of employment are not of the type imposed upon independent contractors,” charges the suit, which seeks back pay for the affected dancers and an order requiring the club to comply with Nevada wage and overtime requirements.

photo: from Sapphire Gentleman’s Club’s website

———————————————

Tucson lawyer represents exotic dancers seeking back pay

(11/05/2009; Las Vegas)
author: David Wichner

A Tucson attorney is representing a group of exotic dancers suing the self-proclaimed world’s largest strip club — Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club in Las Vegas — for failing to pay dancers wages, and for failing to recognize the dancers’ rights, benefits and protections as employees of the club.

According to the plaintiff’s law firm, Tucson-based Rusing & Lopez, the complaint alleges that Sapphire pays no wages to its dancers at all, and, instead, requires these employees to pay “house fees,” “off-stage fees” and other fees to Sapphire for the “privilege” of performing in the club.

Lawyer Mick Rusing of Rusing & Lopez said if the dancers’ case is successful, not only will Sapphire be obligated to pay wages to its employees, but it will also be prevented from demanding payment from the dancers for performing in the clubs and will be required also to provide other benefits and protection of employment including workers compensation insurance.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Rusing also was involved in a similar case against another topless club last year. That suit resulted in a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court allowing the case to proceed under state law claims, the Sun reported.

Here’s the law firms’ press release:

Exotic Dancers Sue Sapphire for Unpaid Wages

A group of exotic dancers is suing the self-proclaimed world’s largest strip club — Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club — for failing to pay dancers wages, and for failing to recognize the dancers’ rights, benefits and protections as employees of the Las Vegas club.

On November 2, 2009, attorneys for exotic dancer Zuri-Kinshasa Maria Terry filed a class action lawsuit against Sapphire and its operating company in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Las Vegas on behalf of a class of potentially thousands of current and former Sapphire dancers. Sapphire touts itself as the world’s largest gentlemen’s club — Sapphire’s website boasts of “70,000 square feet of topless entertainment” and “100s of beautiful girls from around the world.”

The dancers are suing under the Nevada Wage and Hour Law seeking recovery of past unpaid wages, reimbursement of “fees” wrongfully imposed upon them, and for damages for other Wage and Hour Act violations. The case centers on the obligation of Sapphire to pay no less than the minimum wage established by Nevada law to the exotic dancers it employs.

The complaint alleges that Sapphire pays no wages to its dancers at all, and, instead, requires these employees to pay “house fees,” “off-stage fees” and other fees to Sapphire for the “privilege” of performing in the club. The complaint includes claims alleging that Sapphire:
• Fails to pay dancers the hourly wages and overtime wages mandated by Nevada law;
• Fails to pay dancers the compensation due upon termination or resignation as provided by Nevada law;
• Unlawfully takes money from the dancers by charging “fees” required to be paid as a condition of employment;
• Unlawfully requires dancers to purchase and maintain at their own expense special uniforms, costumes and accessories to be worn at Sapphire; and
• Unjustly profits at the expense of the dancers, who are treated as employees but are not afforded the rights, benefits and protections to which employees are entitled under Nevada law.

Per Mick Rusing of Tucson based Rusing & Lopez, the dancers’ counsel, if the dancers’ case is successful, not only will Sapphire be obligated to pay wages to its employees, but it will also be prevented from demanding payment from the dancers for the “privilege” of performing in the clubs. It will be required also to provide other benefits and protection of employment including workers compensation insurance.

The Plaintiff’s class is represented by the Las Vegas-based firm of Christensen Law, the Tucson, Arizona firm of Rusing & Lopez, and California attorney Robert L. Starr. The way was paved for this action by a similar case in 2008, Jane Roe Dancer I-VII vs. Golden Coin, Ltd., dba Girls of Glitter Gulch, wherein Plaintiff’s attorney Michael J. Rusing, of the Rusing & Lopez firm, successfully argued to the Nevada Supreme Court that exotic dancers should be entitled pursue their wage and hour claims under Nevada law against a group of strip clubs in Las Vegas via a class action. It is anticipated that additional class action lawsuits of a similar nature will be brought against other Las Vegas clubs in the near future.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Class Action Lawsuit filed against Sapphire (Las Vegas, NV)”
  1. Captain America says:

    I have to laugh when I read all the demands in this lawsuit. Also, I am not an employe of Sapphires, but have worked in this industry off and on over the past twenty plus years. Asking for all of this would just put strip clubs out of business. Why aren’t the dancers just given keys to the clubs? Also, based on what I’m reading, they should be obligated to share in the expenses of the Club, rent, promotions, utilities, purchase limos. Take your lawsuits to the streets and go after the real pimps. Strip clubs offer these girls a realistic alternative to paying there bills and taking care of there kids.

    • ashlynn says:

      I’ve been dancing long enough to remember the days that i use to get a paycheck for being a dancer and it was great. I have no problem being treated like an employee and getting paid for it. The club took 20% of my tips and i got a paycheck every week, i think that’s how it should be. Instead of making nothing and having to pay the manager and dj all the money i just made because only 4 people came in the club that day while they collect a pay check. The clubs don’t care about the girls, all they care about is how much money they can take from them. A realistic alternative to paying there bills? What does that mean, i still have to pay bills when the club is dead and i don’t make any money. The manager and Dj make out just fine every day whether it is slow or not. The club that paid me hourly and treated me like an employee didn’t go out of business but caught wind that other clubs were getting away with not paying the dancers and decided to go that route. Why wouldn’t a club owner want free employees? Guys come to the club for the girls and if you can have them with out paying them why would you pay them? Everyone wants an employee that works for free 😉 and if you can get that employee to pay you also, you just scored big time. It’s not always in the dancers best interest considering not everyday is a huge money maker.

    • Ca says:

      yeah, if a place of business was to not charge money from the people who work there,(actually the reason that anybody frequentts the business at all) they would go out of business! *eyeroll*

  2. “Class Action Lawsuit filed against Sapphire (Las Vegas, NV) License to Pimp BLOG” was a relatively nice posting, .
    I hope you keep writing and I’ll try to continue following! Thanks for the post ,Eloisa

    • HI, Eloisa
      Please feel free to let me know about any other strip clubs or organizing efforts by strippers to address labor violations. I think it’s important that there be a visible online space for strippers to go to where they can access this info so that we’re not re-inventing the wheel and can share our experiences & strategies with one another.

  3. maria says:

    I was a stripper not to long ago in Maryland in they paid us to come to work in you received money off each drink, and on bottle’s or private dance the tell you to get your tip’s up front. In at the end of the night you paid security and the bar. In all tips was yours if no money was made we didn’t pay anyone see you on the next one. But when I come here in they told me I have to pay to come in dance before I made any money. I said for all that I could just do private out calls in pay for security.Because no money is no money for the dancers but everyone else gets paid for begin there in the women who do all the work should to. In as fare as paying for the business light’s in all that, the people that come in to see us women for the show we put on buy all those drinks and dances pay the clubs bills just fine. Even if they don’t tip in the women don’t get paid the club in the staff does in that just not right.

  4. Kimberly says:

    My husband and I just returned home from Vegas and on our first night we visited Sapphire. I find it funny that they still to this day run a shady business. I had a conversation with three dancers who all said they have to pay out of pocket to dance at that club since it’s the best. There are also a ton of other fees. Such as a fee to not dance on stage, paying the bar, and security. They said they don’t receive pay from the club and have to give away almost all of their tips.
    Shady as fuck!

  5. will someone tell me about the the lawsuit against Sapphire NY AKA Jaccaranda Club settlement for the years 2009 – 2012. There’s a current lawsuit for the ryears 2013 and forward but I worked 2009 -2011. I got a settlement from Penthouse & Ricks Cabaret

  6. Bryon Watkins says:

    The end result, Sapphire lost. GOOD!!! This is Bryon Watkins in Las Vegas.

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