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Dancers Charged For Stage Time By Club Owners Fight Back

Tired of having to pay club owners for the ‘privilege’ of providing entertainment for guests of gentlemen’s clubs, dancers are fighting back. Improper classification of dancers as independent contractors rather than employees allowed club owners to charge fees to entertainers who made money solely off of the tips of club customers.

Hima B., a former stripper in California, is creating a documentary on what she considers unfair labor practices that unfairly target strippers for stage fees, commissions and other miscellaneous charges. Called ‘Licensed to Pimp,” the documentary details how misclassification of strippers as independent contractors rather than employees unfairly robs them of a fair wage, access to unemployment insurance and other labor protections guaranteed to California employees and employees throughout the United States.

Dancers from a California chain recently won a $13 million settlement in a misclassification lawsuit. A group of dancers in Kansas celebrated a similar victory after winning a state misclassification lawsuit there.

In addition to taking their battles to court, some strippers are unionizing and using their collective strength to push for change within their industry. The Exotic Dancers Union was formed in 1997 to give performers at a San Francisco peep show improved labor rights. The club the dancers worked for – the Lusty Lady – has since become employee-owned and operated, giving all employees, including the performers, a say in how it is run.

What it all comes down to is employee rights. Regardless of what your occupation, as long as it is a legal occupation – and stripping or exotic dancing is a legal occupation – you should be entitled to the same employment protections and employee rights as everyone else.

Source: CNN Money, “Strippers vs. clubs in fight over labor rights,” March 21, 2013

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