Exotic dancers sue boss, claim they're labeled as 'independent contractors'

Dive Brief:

  • Exotic dancers at two Oklahoma strip clubs filed a federal lawsuit against their employers for misclassifying the dancers as independent contractors, reports KFOR News. Under federal court rulings, nightclub dancers are employees and therefore entitled to wages, benefits and other employee entitlements. The class-action suit is filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • The plaintiffs also claim that the club owners never paid them, and that their only earnings were from club patrons’ gratuities. The principle plaintiff told KFOR that the dancers were forced to share tips with other workers classified as employees, including managers and doormen.
  • The defendant in the case is Michael Billings, the owner of Midway Island, one of two strip clubs being sued. The dancers are seeking unpaid back pay, overtime wages and damages. Their attorney is looking for more aggrieved workers to come forward with complaints.

Dive Insight:

The FLSA is very clear in defining who a legal employee is and what employees are entitled to under the law. Uber drivers in some states are fighting similar legal battles.  

If the court finds that the dancers weren’t paid a wage and had to share tips with employees to be true, the club owners could be liable for an enormous payout in back wages and damages. Employers in every industry must know the laws that govern their establishments and make sure they comply. In this case, the dancers knew their rights and wisely filed their suit under the FLSA.

Filed Under: Legal