Exotic dancers or strippers are frequently denied fair payment of wages. This usually happens when employers claim that exotic dancers are independent contractors, not employees. However, this is often incorrect.

Earlier this month the U.S. District Court in Riverside, California approved the settlement of three California clubs: Spearmint Rhino, Rouge, and Blue Zebra. The lawsuit against the clubs alleged that the clubs had misclassified its exotic dancers as independent contractors, and in doing so violated minimum wage and other state and federal employment law.

One of the accusations was that the club illegally forced the topless dancers to share their tips with managers, DJs, doormen, and other employees that generally do not receive tips. The women in the lawsuit claimed that they had earned nearly $500,000 a year in tips but were forced to distribute it unlawfully. The dancers also alleged that the club threatened them with retaliation if they tried to assert their rights.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 14 dancers who worked in Florida, Texas, Kentucky, and Idaho as well as California, although more dancers will be eligible to join the settlement later. The 14 named dancers will receive an additional bonus, or incentive award, which could be as much as $15,000 for taking the time to pursue the case and use their true identity in public court records.

After dividing up attorney’s fees and costs the dancers’ settlement will be divided proportionally. Dancers in California are entitled to 50.14% of the remaining amount of the settlement, Nevada dancers will receive 42.69%, and the remaining dancers will get 7.16%.

As a part of the settlement the clubs agreed to stop treating dancers as independent contractors and will now treat them as employees, or even shareholders and part owners in some cases. The California clubs also agreed to no longer charge dancers stage fees.

The clubs benefitted by settling other claims tangentially related to this lawsuit. The settlement stipulated that the dancers will also end other claims that were pending in California State Court and arbitration in Nevada.

These claims are unfortunately quite common. According to the administrative department responsible for wage and hour violations, approximately. 197,000 workers received $150 million in back pay for overtime violations alone in 2008.

Other types of workers such as mortgage loan officers are also misclassified by their employers in order to avoid California and federal pay law. If you think your employer is violating your rights to fair pay contact the lawyers at Cunningham Law, APC today. Call (951) 213-4786 to schedule a free consultation today.

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