There have been many misconceptions and misappropriations amongst the exotic entertainment industry in terms of employment. Due to the nature of the industry, exotic dancers have long been taken advantage of by greedy employers looking to turn a huge profit. One common way employers, such as strip clubs or exotic dancer bars, take advantage of their employees is by not paying them minimum wage, collecting house fees, making dancers pay mandatory tip outs to other club employees, and labeling them as an independent contractor instead of an employee. In the state of Florida, many courts have already found strippers, exotic dancers, and adult entertainers are all usually employees and not independent contractors. John B. Gallagher, PA, a law firm dedicated to enforcing the labor laws for exotic entertainers, will review the reasons adult entertainers are usually considered to be employees.
REASONS WHY EXOTIC DANCERS ARE ENTITLED TO MINIMUM WAGES
- In our previous blog post, we outlined in detail the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. In sum, an employee works for one employer predominantly and obtains most of their income to survive from that one employer. An independent contractor is someone who is self-employed and who works for many employers, usually on a contract basis.
- Another key difference between an employee and an independent contractor is an employee performs work integral to the daily operations of a business. A strip club or any other establishment that employs exotic dancers usually owes their entire existence to the dancers; hence, strippers must be considered employees under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Many adult performers are subject to performance standards. For instance, the exotic dancers may be required to wear a to wear certain outfits, look a certain way, and act a certain way.
- Most adult entertainers work at the location of the strip club.
- Many strippers are not in control of their rotations or pricing; their employer is.
WHAT DOES THE FLSA GUARANTEE EMPLOYEES?
The FLSA was enacted in 1938 and has undergone various amendments in the 80 years since. Originally designed to set a minimum wage and prohibit child labor, the FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting virtually all employees in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. The governmental department that oversees the enforcement of the FLSA is The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The FLSA also requires equal pay for equal work under a 1963 amendment. However, there are exceptions, such as pay that is determined by seniority and merit. This amendment also protects against discriminatory pay arrangements for executive, administrative, and professional employees. Pay for overtime, hourly pay, commissions, tipping, and pay scales are also addressed by the FLSA.
At its core, the FLSA desires that workers be compensated fairly for work performed, regardless of the work that is performed. This applies in the adult entertainment industry as well, which for years has gotten away with wage discrimination because of the nature of the work. No matter your personal opinion on strippers, they perform a job just like you. They work hard at their job under not the best conditions to earn a living. Entertainers are protected under the law.
CONSEQUENCES IF AN EMPLOYER VIOLATES THE FLSA
In the state of Florida, many courts have found exotic dancers or performers are considered employees and are thus protected under the FLSA and minimum wage laws. This is so because of the amount of control the Club has over the entertainers. If strip clubs or other businesses that employ strippers are found to be intentionally classifying exotic entertainers as independent contractors when they are in fact employees and thus not paying them minimum wage, then under Florida the employer will be required to pay the employees the minimum wage that would have been earned in the preceding five years plus liquidated damages in an equal amount, and, the employee’s attorney’s fees.
The penalties for misclassifying a worker can be huge if the IRS gets involved. Penalties can include back taxes or premiums, civil fines, interest, and other retroactive damages.
Some adult entertainment establishments will go to great lengths to avoid having dancers classified as employees. Some clubs have performers rent out their poles and space in the strip club, claiming them as merely tenants. Some tips are underreported by the employer. Some strip clubs require dancers to pay house fees as well and tip outs the employer at the end of every shift.
HOW JOHN B. GALLAGHER, PA CAN HELP
If you are an exotic dancer or were an adult entertainer in the preceding five years in the state of Florida and think your employer may have violated your fair statutory minimum wage rights, call John B. Gallagher, PA, today. With over thirty years of experience, we will make every effort to hold those who violate your rights accountable and help recover what is owed you. We are tenacious in our dealings and will fight passionately to protect your equal rights and ensure fair compensation under the law. Contact John B. Gallagher PA for a free consultation today!