Some people call the practice ‘misclassification.’ I call it what it is: workplace fraud. Workplace fraud has three victims: the worker of course; the employers who do the right thing but find themselves undermined by an un-level playing field; and the government, which gets cheated out of unpaid taxes.And, yes, while it tends to come up in the construction industry, that applies to exotic dancers, too. A group of current and former dancers at Rick's Cabaret sued for back pay, having been paid "performance fees" rather than regular wages. Not only that, they had to pay the club a fee for every night they worked.
U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of New York generally sided with the plaintiffs, saying in a 65-page ruling that the club exercised so much control over the dancers that the women were actually employees subject to the club's rules, and could not make independent decisions about their work.Yes, even if workers earn a lot of tips, their employers have to pay them. It's not like Rick's Cabaret could charge the prices it doubtless commands if the dancers weren't there to pull in customers looking for something other than a beer or televisions airing sporting contests. And even if minimum wage is dwarfed by tips, workers deserve all those other things that go with being an employee: unemployment insurance, workers' comp, payment of payroll taxes.
Rick's Cabaret ordered that dancers not chew gum, dictated what outfits they wore, when they came to work and which bathrooms they used on the premises, Engelmayer said. [...]
The judge's ruling follows similar decisions involving strip club dancers from judges in Kansas, Georgia, Washington D.C. and Minnesota, who have said that the workers are entitled to receive minimum wage, overtime and other wage protections.
Rick's Cabaret, which is a chain operating more than 40 locations, says this ruling won't make a difference since it already changed its classification of workers. But the chain plans to appeal.