Court Determines Exotic Dancers Are Employees

A Georgia federal court has determined that a group of exotic dancers who are suing a strip club for alleged wage-and-hour violation are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rather than independent contractors. In this wage and hour case the court reviewed the dancers claims, specifically that the strip club allegedly violated federal labor laws, by failing to pay exotic dancers denying minimum wage or overtime pay and forcing them to pay “kick-backs” to work. According to the complaint the dancers were only paid by tips received from customers, and often worked more than 40 hours in a week. The lawsuit states: “Defendants knew, or showed reckless disregard for the fact that they misclassified these individuals as independent contractors, and accordingly failed to pay these individuals the minimum wage and failed to pay overtime at the required rate under the FLSA.”

Wage and hour lawsuits based on “misclassifications” – i.e. categorizing a worker as an independent contractor v. an employee – are frequent. If you have questions about your classification or believe that you have been improperly categorized as an independent contractor it is important to consult with a highly experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

Factors to be examined in distinguishing between ‘independent contractor’ versus ’employee’ include the degree of control exercised by the alleged employer, degree to which the employee’s income is determined by the employer, and permanency of the relationship. Such lawsuits arise in numerous work place situations, from the entertainment industry to consulting arrangements, to salespersons and pharmaceutical reps.

Here, according to the lawsuit the dancers work hours, time and manner of dancing, attire and customer interaction with customers was regulated by the owners, and dancers were required to attend meetings at the club without being paid for their time there. Based on these factors, the court determined that the dancers were employees and should be compensated as such.

For more information or if you believe you may have been misclassified, please contact the top Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.