If you’re an exotic dancer, you may be relying on tips from your customers as your only source of income, but the reality is that exotic dancers are generally protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and your employer should be paying you at least minimum wage and overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week.
Exotic Dancers Are Regularly Misclassified as Independent Contractors
Independent contractors and employees are not the same, and employers regularly misclassify exotic dancers as independent contractors in order to reduce their costs and avoid compliance with labor laws. If you work at an adult club, and your manager tells you that you have been classified as an independent contractor, it means:
- You are self-employed, and you are responsible for paying self-employment taxes.
- You are not entitled to employee benefits such as health care, dental, vacation, sick pay, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation coverage.
- You are not guaranteed a minimum hourly wage for the time you put in on the job.
- You are not paid overtime for the hours you work in excess of 40 in a week.
Ways That Exotic Dancers Are Denied Their Rightful Pay
Misclassifying exotic dancers as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, and benefits is only the beginning. There are many other ways that adult entertainment clubs deny exotic dancers their rightful pay including:
- Paying with tips only. Many clubs pay exotic dancers with tips only, and they do not ensure that the hourly pay equivalent is at least minimum wage. In addition, they do not pay dancers overtime for hours worked over 40.
- Charging a fee to work. Many adult entertainment establishments charge exotic dancers a fee to work at the club.
- Imposing additional fees. Often, clubs charge exotic dancers additional fees that are set by management. These might include late fees, missed shift fees, fees for failing to encourage patrons to buy enough drinks, and end-of-evening breathalyzer fees.
- Forcing dancers to share tips. Many clubs force exotic dancers to share their tips with management and other workers who do not generally receive tips—in violation of the law.
When an Exotic Dancer Is Actually an Employee
In recent years, the employment status of exotic dancers has been challenged in court. Several courts have ruled that exotic dancers are employees—not independent contractors. This means that they are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA. So although many adult entertainment clubs tell exotic dancers that they are independent contractors, most dancers should actually be classified as employees—that is the law.
So when is an exotic dancer an employee instead of an independent contractor? The law looks at several different factors to make this determination. Exotic dancers may actually be employees if one or more of the following statements is true:
- Your employer can fire you, at any time and without cause.
- You can quit at any time without notice.
- You usually work under the supervision of your employer.
- You are paid on a regular schedule and in regular amounts.
- Your employer sets your work schedule.
- You must work at your employer’s place of business or some other location, which is determined by your employer.
- You work for your employer on a regular basis, week after week, and you do not stop working when a contract period ends.
- Your employer exercises control over when, where, and how you do your work.
How an Employment Attorney Can Help Exotic Dancers Obtain Fair Pay
If you think you have been cheated out of your rightful pay, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer about your case. At Kennedy Hodges, our experienced FLSA wage and overtime attorneys will sit down with you, talk to you about your job, review your pay stubs, and help you to understand if your rights have been violated. Our firm handles employment and overtime cases nationwide, and we have helped hundreds of employees like you recover lost wages. Contact our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation case review. We are here to help.