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Exotic Dancers Could Get $10M in California Class Action Employment Misclassification Lawsuit Settlement

April 27, 2011

In recent California class action lawsuit news, a class of exotic dancers in California and other states across the country have reportedly received preliminary court approval of a $10 million employee misclassification lawsuit settlement, brought by a group of women working as strippers for the Spearmint Rhino adult night club--who claim that they were misclassified as independent contractors while employed at the strip club.

The class of around 11,000 female dancers, who perform for Spearmint Rhino, claim that their employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code, along with other state wage and hour laws, by failing to pay the workers minimum wage, and by dividing up their received tips to pay for stage fees, and to compensate other employees of the nightclub, such as doormen, DJ's and managers. The dancers even claim that they were often made to pay penalties if they weren't able to make men to buy a certain amount of drinks during their dancing shifts.

The employees claim that they were wrongly treated as "independent contractors" rather than "employees" and as dancers at the club, they should have been paid proper wages and been given access to the benefits available for employees under state and federal wage and hour laws. They are seeking back wages, tips, attorney fees and monetary damages. If the agreement is signed it would reportedly force clubs in California to stop requiring dancers to pay stage fees, and to reclassify all dancers within 18 months.

As our attorneys have discussed in a related Irvine, California employment lawyers blog, employee misclassification can happen when an employer classifies an employee erroneously as an independent contractor, who is exempt from overtime pay or other wage and hour benefits that are usually available to non-exempt employees under the FLSA. While some employers mistakenly engage in employee misclassification, many employers misclassify workers in order to avoid paying employment taxes, overtime wages and benefits. If an independent contractor has been improperly classified and chooses to file a wage and hour lawsuit, that worker may be entitled to overtime compensation, as well as penalties, interest, and the cost of legal fees.

Our Anaheim-based employment and labor attorneys represent individuals who have experienced violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as California Labor Codes in Orange County and throughout Southern California. Contact us today to discuss your employment rights.

$10 million settlement for exotic dancer a not-so-erotic outcome in wage class actions, Lexology.com, April 8, 2011

Former Spearmint Rhino Dancer Sues Club in Labor Dispute, Ventura County Star, July 30, 2009

Spearmint Rhino ready to settle suit; dancers may get $10 million payout, July 8, 2010

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Related Blog Posts:

Employee's Lawsuit Moves Forward in Quicken Loans Overtime Lawsuit, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 21, 2011

Levi Strauss Will Pay $1M in Overtime Wages For Misclassifying Employees, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 8, 2011