Dancer Lawsuits, Labor Laws

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Dancer Lawsuits, Labor Laws

Here are some excerpts from the articles and links about the dancers that are suing two strip clubs in Anchorage. I hope they get their money!

"Dancers received the minimum wage and tips for table dances and so-called VIP dances in a private lounge. In turn, the dancers had to pay a "house fee" of $10 an hour for each hour they worked and tip the bouncer, the DJ, the doorman, and the "House Moms and Dads" -- floor supervisors. They also were expected to sell "souvenirs" provided by charities -- Jerry's Kids was one -- and buy the souvenirs themselves if they could not sell them.
Jennifer testified that given the fees and tips required by her employer, there were days she took home next to nothing for her labors. She also explained under questioning that on one occasion her labors were painfully interrupted by post-traumatic stress disorder and a workers' compensation claim after "an individual climbed on stage and bit me.
Many people smirk at the term "sex workers," but it is important to remember these young women really are workers, and their compensation, working conditions and treatment by management has generated labor-law cases all over the United States."

"Shanna "Brooke" Thornton, Jennifer Prater and Heather "Kelly" Kidd say the clubs also failed to pay minimum wages and forced them to pool their tips to give to other employees. They claim they're owed a total of more than $324,000 in back pay and other compensation.
While making $7.15 an hour, the state minimum wage at the time, the Crazy Horse dancers were required to pay a $10 "house fee" for every hour that they worked, the court papers say. At Fantasies, the house fee was $15 per hour. Both clubs required the dancers to tip their "house moms," or floor supervisors, along with doormen and DJs. There were also requirements to sell souvenirs or drinks to customers and "fines" if they failed, according to the court documents."

"After nearly six years of legal wrangling, a judge's decision could mean back wages for three strippers who said they were cheated out of money for dancing at two Anchorage clubs."

"It wasn't tips from customers that was in dispute: The women claimed the clubs, the Crazy Horse Saloon and Fantasies on 5th Avenue, did not pay them for the hours they worked, charged them illegal fees and forced them to give cash they took in as tips to other employees, like DJs and "house moms".
This isn't about how much money I make in tips," Prater told the Daily News in 2006. "This is about wage and hour laws. Just because of what we do, does not mean employers don't have to follow the law."

All of that I got from Anchorage Daily News. That is concerning two clubs in Anchorage.
But there are others. Below is another VERY interesting link to License to Pimp ".

"What would you do if the strip club you worked at became a brothel?
Would you adapt to it, fight it, or quit?
License to Pimp is a feature documentary about the choices that three San Francisco strippers make as their workplaces engage in illegal labor practices. Strip clubs refuse to pay strippers even minimum wages & actually charge them for the privilege to work. I worked in half of San Francisco’s strip clubs during the 1990s and witnessed their transformation into brothels as a result of these fees. Now as a filmmaker, I uncover current working conditions & try to find out how strip clubs are able to operate outside the law."

"Imagine you have a totally legal job as – say – a waiter/waitress or maybe a taxi driver. You’re expected to make tips and you look forward to that. You actually usually do pretty well. So one day, your boss at the restaurant or taxi company says he’s noticed you’re doing so well that you will have to pay him an amount – say $75 – out of your tips by the end of each shift. If you don’t, you’re going to get suspended or fired. That would be unfair and illegal under employment standards laws.
Yet that is exactly what happens to many strippers working legally in American strip clubs, except they aren’t even offered any sort of guaranteed minimum wage. They have to pay these “stage fees” to go to work. That’s why Hima B, herself a former stripper out of San Francisco, set out to make License to Pimp. License to Pimp will be a feature documentary about the choices that three San Francisco strippers make as their employers engage in illegal labor practices.
I stripped in San Francisco during the 1990’s and witnessed strip clubs become increasingly greedy as they took more & more of the dancers’ tips. It wasn’t enough that they never paid strippers any wages but now they required us to pay to work…I saw many strippers turn tricks to make these fees. They weren’t empowered women who wanted to be prostitutes. They had sex for tips so they could pay the strip club pimps and avoid being fired. Those who refused to have sex found it difficult to make their quotas and were eventually fired or quit.
Most women work in strip clubs because they don’t want to prostitute. It’s a sexual boundary they make and every person has a right to determine what they’re comfortable with. It’s important to have places in the sex industry where women can be sexual but don’t have to have sex. And there’s nothing morally wrong with prostituting as long as you’re a consenting adult, can work safely & without violence, and can negotiate the terms of your work.
As stripping increasingly gains acceptance within popular culture, more and more women & teenagers enter this industry and are unaware of their rights & workplace realities. This documentary reveals the impact these illegal practices have on workers."

I admire and applaud people that stand up for their rights. You might think that strippers should not have any rights but I am very happy to see that this issue is being acknowledged and taken seriously. I have paid an enormous amount in house fees over the years, if you add it all up.
Even paid penalty fees when being sick. I've seen fees collected by the clubs for all kinds of stuff.
And I've had nights when after many hours in the club and after paying all the fees to work, walked away with no profit or very little for myself.
If you ponder that for a second, you know it's not ok.
I am not fishing for anyone's sympathy, trust me. But if everybody else in the workforce can count on labor laws and employee rights,
why shouldn't dancers?
I am tempted to file my own lawsuit. Anyone care to join me? 🙂
And yes, I am going to pledge to help Hima raise the money she needs for her project.

  • Comments: 4
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  1. Kalyna on :

    Hi Tatiana,

    I just finished reading your blog - all of it!

    I found it because I was thinking of becoming a dancer myself. It's nice to see someone as strong and opinionated as yourself. I really look up to you!

    It's fun to follow your life. It seems like the perfect balance between country life and city life. It seems very free.

    I wish you and Chhaya happiness, and fun!

  2. TATIANA Post author on :

    Hi Kalyna......I like your name!
    You read the whole blog? All 1251 entries? WOW!
    Thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading.
    Good luck with the dancing if you decide to pursue it, let me know how it goes if you do!
  3. Sayuri on :

    I Iove your post and have started a union in Atlanta GA. The United Stripper Society is an organization dedicated to dancers maintain dignity and respect while at work. We also want to assist women who have been violated seek justice. We pray and spiritually support dancers and believe exotic dancers are children of God. Please visit the site and let me know what you think! Email me with any additional comments. Thank you for the post. I want to support License to Pimp as well.
  4. TATIANA Post author on :

    Hi Sayuri,
    I am happy to hear about the union for dancers!
    : )
    I will check out the site.

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