Sunday, October 19, 2008

Indy Strippers Sue Over Wages

It seems I am getting further and ruther from employment law in my practice and this blog but reading Indy strippers sue club's owners from Muncie's Star Press leaves me thinking these women have a good case.

Wendi R. Morse, 27, and Felicia Kay Pennington, 26, claim Dancers Show Club owners violated federal labor laws by wrongly classifying them as independent contractors, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The women's lawyers are seeking class-action status.

The lawsuit says the women worked only for tips, received no wages from the club and paid various fees back to the business. At the same time, they had no control over their schedules, were barred from working at other clubs and, the suit says, generally treated as employees and not contractors.

Clubs across the United States have been classifying strippers as independent contractors since the 1990s, according to news stories, but one advocate said that system is designed to take advantage of the women.

"Good for the girls who are doing this," said Mary Taylor, a Canadian author and business owner who worked as a stripper for 21 years at clubs throughout North America.

"It's easy to get into for a lot of women, but they are getting ripped off by these club owners," Taylor said. "They are holding them hostage."

Taylor echoed key allegations of the lawsuit, saying club owners routinely treat entertainers as independents while telling them when to work and for how long, as well as taking a cut of their earnings.

"How can you be self-employed when somebody is telling you what to do and taking your money?" Taylor said. "They are employees. They should be entitled to all the benefits that an employee has."