HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Exotic dancers in Arkansas received welcome news recently when a federal judge ruled in their favor. The federal judge found that the exotic dancers were employees, not independent contractors, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The dancers claimed the club they worked for intentionally misclassified them to avoid paying proper wages and overtime. Under the FLSA, employees must be paid at least minimum wage for hours worked, and time-and-a-half for any time worked over the normal 40-hour work week.
The Dancers’ Story
The class action lawsuit against the French Quarter, a strip club in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was filed in January 2010. Two dancers, Kristen Whitworth and Tomisha Lewis, filed their claim on behalf of all of the dancers at the club, though it appears only one other dancer chose to opt-in. In their lawsuit, the two dancers claimed the club wilfully misclassified the dancers as independent contractors. The dancers argued that the club behaved like an employer, treated the dancers like employees, not independent contractors, and should have paid the dancers an hourly wage.
As evidence, the dancers detailed their job duties and how their wages were handled. The dancers claimed they performed both on-stage and private dances. And while they did supply their own costumes and make-up, a feature associated with independent contractors, the club set rules and expectations for the dancers, the club set the prices on private dances and drinks, and the club collected all of the tips before distributing the money to each dancer. The club also took ten percent of the dancers’ tips from stage dancing and fifty percent of the money earned from drinks and private dances. The exotic dancers believed they not only were not independent, but they were completely dependent on the club and were therefore employees.
One of the key differences between an employee and an independent contractor is economic dependence. Employees are dependent upon, usually, a single employer for economic security. Independent contractors, on the other hand, may advertise and offer their services to multiple employers at the same time because their services are not integral to those businesses. For instance, individuals who offer to clean offices or provide event security would likely be independent contractors because they can work for many employers at once, but neither clean offices nor event security are integral to business functions. The economic security for independent contractors is based on their independent ability to contract for their services. In the exotic dancers’ case, the dancers only worked at the French Quarter where club management had considerable control and where their services were integral to the club’s continued business.
If you or someone you know is an exotic dancer and is not receiving proper hourly wages or overtime, call our top-rated team of overtime pay lawyers at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.