Next time you roll into a gentleman's establishment, ask yourself one question: Is this place in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938? That's the law that established a national minimum wage and overtime pay. But the women who dance in topless and nudie joints don't make minimum wage and overtime. It's strictly tips for tat, if that, once they divvy up the ones, fives and 20s with everyone else, from the house mom to the DJ to the owner who charges a lot just for a little time on the main stage.
Which is why, earlier this year, a federal judge in D.C. ruled in favor of four dancers who worked at a place called The House, insisting that they were employees due a fair wage, not merely "independent contractors" shaking it for loose change. And that's hardly the lone case: Entertainers in California, New York, Nevada, Arkansas, Michigan and Louisiana have taken strip clubs to court, claiming they're in violation of federal law. Some clubs have settled. Which may be why more and more cases are being filed -- like the one that landed at the Earle Cabell on Friday afternoon, brought by three women who've spent time on the pole at Jaguars Gold Club and are suing the Dallas-based ownership over proper pay.
Long story short, from the litigation:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
JGC Dallas LLC and Bryan Scott Foster require and/or permit Erica Jones, Crystal Winter and Selisha Brooks to work as exotic dancers at their adult entertainment clubs in excess of 40 hours per week, but refuse to compensate them at the applicable minimum wage and overtime rates. In fact, Defendants refuse 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 Defendants and other employees who do not customarily receive tips. Therefore, Defendants have failed to compensate Plaintiffs at the federally-mandated minimum wage rate. Defendants' conduct violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires non-exempt employees to be compensated for their overtime work at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay.
The suit, which follows, lays out how dancers divvy up their takes at the end of each night. And the three women are hoping to make theirs a class action, which shouldn't be hard in one of the world's biggest strip-club markets.Erica Jones, Crystal Winter and Selisha Brooks v Jaguars