A federal judge in New York ruled yesterday that exotic dancers are really employees, not independent contractors, and should be paid as such, Bloomberg Business Week reported.
Former dancers sued Peregrine Enterprises, Inc. which operates Rick’s Cabaret. Judge Paul A. Engelmayer rejected Rick’s argument that these dancers were independent contractors. He ruled that Rick’s exercised significant control over the dancers by virtue of a clear and lengthy set of guidelines, which included such rules as “entertainers may never refuse an offer of food or drinks, especially a bottle.” Also significant was that Rick’s had imposed 7,000 fines on its entertainers between 2005 and 2010. Rick’s also at times let dancers know if they needed to lose weight. The written opinion can be viewed here.
This case highlights a significant problem in our economy. Employers are continuing their attempts to avoid paying wages to their employees, either by classifying them as exempt from overtime and working them 60 hours per week, or, as here, by classifying them as independent contractors, not paying them at all and making them work solely for tips.
What is wrong with these employers? Are they such bad business managers that they can only survive by cheating their employees! Come on. Be better than that.
Kudos to Nichols Kaster for their great legal work.