Hoes be winnin’
Dallas Strippers Granted $2.3 Million Labor Lawsuit
Via ScoopBlog (Dallas News)
On Christmas Eve, a U.S. district judge in Dallas left a little something extra under the tree for some 190 women who spent time dancing in an all-nude Northwest Dallas strip club: a signed settlement worth $2.3 million, minus a sizable chunk of attorneys’ fees.
The small pile of money is the result of a three-year legal battle over that age-old question: Are strippers full-time employees deserving of proper wages or just transient part-timers — independent contractors — dancing for tips? The Dallas case, involving a strip club off Royal Lane and Stemmons Freeway that the city of Dallas is now trying to close altogether, ended like most of the lawsuits filed over strip-club wages in recent years — with the dancers collecting a settlement in the millions, but the club continuing to conduct business as usual.
“The clubs are losing these lawsuits all over the country,” says Houston attorney Galvin Kennedy, who filed the initial lawsuit, “but they keep doing the same thing.” Nevertheless, he says, the settlement is “good news for these ladies.”
In October 2011, three women — Erica Jones, Crystal Winter and Selisha Brooks — sued the statewide chain Jaguars Gold Club and its owner, Dallas-based Bryan Foster. (The chain was sold, but Foster continues to operate the single Jaguars Dallas on Stemmons.) The women, who danced for tips shared with DJs and house moms and managers and had to pay just to get in the door, said they were employees working far more than 40-hour work weeks deserving of a minimum wage and overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Jaguars, said the initial complaint, “refuse[d] to compensate them whatsoever for any hours worked. Plaintiffs’ only compensation is in the form of tips from club patrons. Moreover, Plaintiffs are required to divide their tips with [club owners] and other employees who do not customarily receive tips.”
Jaguars, like most strip clubs, disagreed, insisting they were no more than contract laborers. Said Jaguars’ attorneys, the dancers were “permitted to perform … under various forms of agreements with various entities. And, they claimed, “no performer was required, or did perform in excess of 40 hours per week.”
Almost immediately after the three women filed their suit, things got ugly. According to an emergency motion filed in December 2011, Jaguars’ owners told dancers to “sign a contract that waived their right to join this lawsuit” lest they lose their spot on the main stage. When one of the entertainers, Claudia Rede, refused to sign the document,” says the document filed in federal court, “Defendants made good on their threats and fired her on the spot.”
Hoes, hoes, hoes! Merry Christmas!
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