♫ She gives them quite a battle
All that they can handle
She’ll bruise some
She’ll hurt some too ♫
Welcome back to the Weekend Politics Thread your once and future header host, Uvular! Put your hands together and keep those upvotes coming. Remember, he does it all for you.
A wave of wage and hour lawsuits has hit the exotic dance industry. One of the latest legal imbroglios involves a small chain of gentlemen’s1 clubs called Headlights.2
The dancers, as usual, have a strong case. Management, as usual, has a plausible defense for an appropriately misogynistic and puritanical judge. As a matter of law, whether labor prevails in enforcing their rights will come down to an always tough call regarding whether truly at-will workers fall into the category of independent contractor or employee.
Hairdressers, barbers and stylists stand as a strong compactor group. Which raises the question of whether people cut and dye hair to put themselves through dance academy in the same way that others strip to fund their journey through beauty school.
Ahem. Moving on.
Salons and barber shops typically rent chairs. Barbers and stylists do their jobs with artist-levels of personal discretion. Nearly everyone who has ever touched your scalp in a professional capacity has supplied their own clippers, scissors and such.
This independent contractor model serves the tonsorial arts well. Shops and salons provide a workspace for a fee. Management does not dictate hours. Much of the pay actually comes from tips. Even in places such as Hair Cuttery, where the cutters don branded smocks, uniform mandates remain lax. Based on a consideration of the terms and conditions of employment, most barbers and stylists do not pass muster as employees.
In principle, strip clubs operate much the same way.3 Dancers pay to access the stage. They choose their own costumes and songs. Only a fool of an owner would tell the talent precisely how to bump, grind and sell the fantasy in the same way each time. Dollar, dollar bill. Y’all.
In practice, strip clubs operate as employers in many ways. Management sets strict schedules. Managers also enforce laws about how naked dancers can get and the amount of customer contact allowed. Dancers often face fines and discipline4 for violating written club rules. Shift managers often make putting in overtime a condition for staying on the schedule.
One of the best laws ever enacted, the Fair Labor Standards Act, mandates a minimum wage and overtime pay for tipped employees. In almost every instance, the FLSA prohibits making even contractors work only for tips.
Plaintiff dancers in the Headlights case5 have receipts on tips-only shifts, mandatory unpaid overtime and written rules. Management should lose and have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages and overtime with interest. Liquidated/punitive damages should also go to the dancers.
But, again, the outcome of the case will depend largely on whether the judge accepts the true reality of exotic dancers performing real work deserving of dignity and lawful compensation. Keep your fingers crossed until you need to take out your wallet and show your appreciation for all this fine entertainment.
‘desultory shuffle resumes*