Exotic Dancer Wages & Classification
Exotic dancers, also referred to as dancers, strippers, or adult performers, are often underpaid or not paid at all by the clubs that employ them. The adult entertainment industry’s standard operating practices might sometimes be illegal, but dancers are often used to them, and accept them as a necessary evil of working in the field. After all, they might reason, “every club is doing it.” From misclassifying dancers as “contractors” to requiring dancers to “pay to play,” the industry is rife with flagrant wage and hour violations.
Many dancers may be hesitant to come forward with complaints for fear of retaliation, both at their workplace and within the larger industry. Others might be reluctant because of the social stigma sometimes associated with their position, and decide to stay silent rather than step forward.
But dancers don’t have to accept illegal pay practices that are often the norm. Also, stepping forward to speak out about illegal and unfair practices may help reform not just one person’s club, but alter the industry as dancers join to combat injustice. If you’re concerned that a club may be cheating you out of wages, there are several signs to look out for.
How Are You Paid?
When it comes to clubs, the first, most important question is: Does the club pay you at all? Or is your entire pay made up of tips? Your employer should always be paying you — even employees who receive tips are, under federal law, owed at least $2.13 hourly. Being paid solely in tips is not legal.
Other illegal practices that strip clubs and gentlemen’s clubs often employ include:
- Requiring dancers to tip out the DJ
- Requiring dancers to tip out doormen/bouncers
- Requiring dancers to tip out a “house mother”
- Requiring dancers to "lease" stage space (pay to dance at the club)
- Requiring dancers to pay the club for reporting after a specific time
- Requiring dancers to pay a fine if they miss a “turn” on stage
While doling out a portion of your tips to other staff members isn’t necessarily illegal, it’s often a sign of unlawful practices, especially if it was not specified in your contract prior to beginning work. (A lack of an employment contract is also a red flag.)
Dancers often have to pay for their place or stage space — a flat rate determined by the club. While not always illegal (based on tip amounts and the worker’s wages), it’s definitely worth looking into.
Our Lawyers Handle Dancer Cases on a Contingency
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys have decades of experience handling wage theft claims and are offering free consultations to those who may be affected by wage theft. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.