Stripper sues local club over wages

Nnational trend of exotic dancers suing employers for wage violations has reached Ohio.
TNS Regional News
Apr 3, 2014

 

The national trend of exotic dancers suing their employers for wage violations has reached the Miami Valley.

Jessica Wagoner recently filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of New York New York Cabaret in Franklin, alleging the club failed to pay applicable minimum wage and overtime rates during her four-month stint at the club.

The class action Federal Labor Standards Act suit filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton also says Wagoner only made money from tips, was required to divide those tips with staff members and had to pay a “house fee” per shift to the club in order to work.

“These women, for the most part, are employees of the establishment and entitled to minimum wage and overtime,” said Cleveland attorney Anthony Lazzaro, who filed the suit on behalf of the Houston-based Kennedy Hodges firm. “They’re all doing it the same way and (the gentlemen’s clubs) are all doing it wrong.”

Dozens of such lawsuits have been filed in federal courts around the country. Many settle out of court, while a federal judge in New York last fall ruled that 1,900 dancers at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan were hourly employees and entitled to minimum wages, overtime and the return of “stage fees,” shared tips and other fines.

Classifying strippers as independent contractors allows clubs to not pay wages or employment taxes or provide benefits due to employees.

Greg Flaig, secretary of the Buckeye Association of Club Executives (BACE) who audits clubs each month, said New York New York Cabaret has done nothing wrong in the way they pay “entertainer tenants” who rent space on stage and must tip out DJs and other employers.

“From everything I see, the club has followed all tenant-lease procedures 100 percent,” Flaig said, adding that entertainers wouldn’t want the trade offs that come with being employees making up to $2,000 in a night. “If they were employees, they would not be able to make anywhere near the money that they make.”

Kennedy, who said he doesn’t make clients available to media, disputes Flaig’s claim.

“That’s the whole false dichotomy that the industry wants (to portray),” Kennedy said. “It’s not A or B. It’s not either do it under the way you’re currently doing it or this alternate way in which they say you’re going to make less money.

“There is a C option, and the C option can be legal where essentially the same relationship exists. It’s just that the club makes a little less money but they comply with the law.”

Dayton attorney Terry Lewis, who represents the club, did not return a message seeking comment.

A similar suit filed last year in Cleveland has at least one other dancer joining the original complaint. In that, it said dancers had to pay at least $15 to work a minimum 6-hour shift and routinely worked more than 40 hours per week. Fees had to be paid to bouncers and the “house mom” who oversaw the dancers. The dancers said fees had to be paid no matter whether dancers’ income could cover the fees each night.

In her suit, Wagoner claimed that Flaig sent her a text that said she had been put on a “lack of space list” and that she has been blacklisted from working in Ohio. Flaig admitted he sent such a text and characterized her as a 39-year-old looking for retirement income who danced on the edge of some of the club’s rules.

But Flaig, who audits many Ohio clubs each month and is executive director of the Owners Coalition, said he’s never had a successful legal challenge to his wage system which includes 26 questions regarding independent contractor employment.

“If I find they’ve done something wrong, I’m the first one that’s going to tell them,” Flaig said. “It’s going to affect all of the clubs if one of them doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do.”

Kennedy said he’s gotten money for every exotic dancer client he’s represented and isn’t surprised Wagoner was banned.

“It’s very common for employers in wage cases like this to try to intimidate the employees who file claims,” Kennedy said. “They’re good employees all along and then suddenly they become bad employees when they are exercising their rights under the law.”

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By Mark Gokavi - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

truckin

What's next?? If your not hot enough to receive enough tips to pay the "self employment" fees such as house fees, bouncer (for your safety)... Who's problem is that? Quit...stripping isn't for you, now your an employee??
.Heck look at a truck driver.. Technically he is on duty from the time he left home till back, sitting at dock? fuel? wait for next load assignment? many others duties with over-the-road as a company driver..sure it may all add up to a grand or more a week but, I'll bet when all and said, adds to about 5 bucks an hour.
So will this open up a new avenue of suits..

I just think the chick felt she was sexier than clients felt she was worth.
PERIOD

betrump

But let me guess: All the time teachers spend out of their classrooms doing real work (and not sitting and waiting) still make them union thugs that are overpaid, right? No way should a teacher with 20+ years experience be making more than a fat guy driving a truck all week long! Lot lizards are expensive!

WASP71

I believe if that fat guy has 4 years experience then yes, that teacher with 20+ years has every right to earn more than him.

truckin

But they don't make more.. doesn't that just chap your rear??

hit the road jack

I'd almost bet your fat azz that a teacher with 10 or 12 years experience makes more that that fat azz truck driver with 15 years experience,wanna bet? If you never drove a truck don't criticize those that do,I did many years ago and I can vouch for a lot of them fat azz truck drivers have more college education than you.

truckin

Sorry chickie, but i do make more than a highly educated teacher..but then can manipulate my tax returns so as to pay less in taxes.
Doesn't that PO you?
I was just mostly sayin' the STRIPPER was whining.
and now i guess teachers are too.

Yes teachers are around 60 grand a year, degree, constant schooling and a fat azz trucker with no more than a high school education can make over 60..

doesn't that just burn your rear..
There are some who still do over the road and start that way, which maybe only 40-50 with long hours..
But sorry chickie, look or talk with anyone in the industry, maybe you know someone who drives for R&L even. Every driver out there is over 60, and if not that is because they chose a short 6-7hr workday run, but still make over 50.
Doesn't that just chap you?
But i am sure an educated teacher would rather stand right beside a STRIPPER and fight than stand behind some scummy, fat azz trucker.
Which by the way for many who know me, i compete often in triathlons and bodybuilding comps. so wrong answer educated teacher.

shovelhead's picture
shovelhead

Most of the teachers I've ever met were in the position because they couldn't make it doing what they really wanted....or were under-educated. Then spend the next 20 years making kids lives miserable by using their power position to influence stupidity. A fat truck driver has more responsibility than a teacher. Although, I have seen a few teachers that could be strippers!

KURTje

Geez truckin you a O/O? Better hire on @ R&J out of Vermilion & get more $$ for your hours......

truckin

No thank you, i do fine, i was just using an age old example of ours who could complain but don't..
I guess teachers and strippers are alot alike