JUDGE: New York Strip Club Owes Dancers Minimum Wage Because It Micromanages Them

A federal judge
has ruleda strip club called
Rick’s Cabaretcheated dancers out of minimum wage by labelling them independent contractors instead of employees.

The owners of the strip club argued that it had little control over the dancers, making them contractors not entitled to minimum wage under federal law.

But New York’s southern district judge Paul Engelmayer ruled Rick’s had “significant control” over the entertainers that even extended to “small aspects” of their lives.

The judge cites many rules the women had to follow. Dancers couldn’t adjust their thongs to show tan lines at any time, nor could they chew gum, have a bad attitude, or be too fat. Other regulations specified the length of their dresses and heights of their shoes and forbade body glitter. The strip club owner said the rules were meant to make sure the club followed the law and kept dancers safe.

But Judge Engelmayer didn’t buy the safety argument. These rules had “nothing whatsoever to do with safety concerns or compliance with law,” he wrote. Rather, they helped Rick’s achieve an upscale reputation. He ordered the two sides to meet about a settlement.

Strippers around country have begun to speak out about being labelled independent contractors, CNN Money reported. As “independent contractors,” they miss out on health care and other benefits and sometimes have to pay stage fees to dance. In February, the Kansas Supreme Court granted dancers at Club Orleans in Topeka the right to collect unemployment. That followed a $US13 million settlement benefiting the dancers in California in November.

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