You know it’s messed up out here when strippers file lawsuits.
n increasing number of strip club dancers are filing suits against their employers, claiming they aren’t being paid the wages they are due.
In the past several months at least three suits have been filed in federal court claiming underpayment or nonpayment of wages.
The latest target is Diamond Club on Northside Drive. Plaintiffs Brittany Thompson, Jennifer Hight, Katherine Bellows and Danielle McElroy claim the club has refused to pay them for the work they have done even though they are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The suit also names Chief Executive Officer C.B. Jones and Chief Financial Officer Karen Kirk as defendants, but a person answering the phone at the Diamond Club on Thursday said both Jones and Kirk were no longer with the club. Efforts to reach the club for comment were unsuccessful.
The women are seeking the return of unpaid wages, alleged illegal kickback payments, interest, attorney’s fees and costs. They are also seeking class-action status to cover about 200 more current and former dancers who have worked at the club over the past three years.
The plaintiffs, some of whom have worked at the club since 2009, said their job was to perform as nude dancers and provide other entertainment to customers. They claim the club, however, has classified them as independent contractors rather than employees.
The suit contends that while the dancers are classified as being self-employed, they are treated as employees. Among other things, they are required to work at least three days a week, their costumes and performances are controlled by management, they are required to take breathalyzer tests and must pay kickback fees.
The assessments include a “house fee” per shift worked, a “DJ fee” of 10 percent of tips, 10 percent of tips received for dancing on stage, a manager fee, VIP sales fees, credit card fees, and late-arrival and early-leave fees. Their suit also accuses Diamond of “failing to provide proper time for required lunch and rest breaks.”
Earlier last month, a federal judge ruled Pin Ups, a DeKalb County strip club sued by its dancers, owed its survival to its dancers and deemed the entertainers to be employees.
The suit is similar to others filed against several metro Atlanta strip clubs in recent months. Last month, three exotic dancers sued Tattletale Lounge on Piedmont Road and its owners , alleging the club “required their employees to pay for the privilege of working.” The suit seeks to cover about 250 other dancers.
Pin Ups was sued last October, the same month Pleasers in southwest Atlanta was sued in federal court over similar allegations claiming nonpayment of wages for services rendered.