Exotic Dancer Wages & Classification

Exotic dancers, also referred to as dancers, strippers, or adult performers, are often underpaid or paid incorrectly by their employing clubs. 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.”

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 unfair pay as the norm, and 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:

  • Giving tips to a DJ
  • Giving tips to doormen/bouncers
  • Giving tips to a “house mother”
  • Paying for your place (to dance at the club)
  • Paying the club when tardy
  • Performing untipped employee roles at a tipped employee’s wage
  • A ban on working at other clubs

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.

How Are You Classified?

A common way employers cheat workers out of wages is by misclassifying them as independent contractors. By doing this, employers can avoid providing benefits or paying workers for overtime hours.

Also, if an employer utilizes a “non-compete” clause — barring you from dancing at any other club — while you are not a full-time, salaried worker for them might be treating you as a salaried employee despite your independent contractor status. If you’re not working for a club full-time, there’s little to no reason you should not be allowed to accept work elsewhere.

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.

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