Recently, I wrote about a logger who got bit by a rattlesnake and had his workers' compensation claim denied. This week, we switch gears to talk about exotic dancers and their misclassification as independent contractors. Karenza Clincy, with other dancers, sued the Onyx, an adult club in Atlanta for wage and hour violations: i.e. seeking minimum wage and overtime. Ms. Clincy and her co-workers danced, in the nude, in an exotic fashion. According to TLNT some of the pertinent facts are:
* Nude dancing is featured at Onyx
* Dancers on the main stage are visible throughout most of the club
* The dancers are assisted by "House Moms" hired by the club
* Rules of the house are provided to dancers in a "Dance Packet"
* The adult entertainment licenses are paid for by the dancers
* Onyx is paid a fee by the dancers
* The money thrown on stage by the customers is divided evenly between the dancers and the house gets a cut
* Dancers have limited discretion over scheduling and are fined for missing work or violating certain house rules.
TLNT sums up the finding by the court holding the dancers are employees, not independent contractors, by quoting from the Overtime Law Blog as follows:
"However, based on evidence that the defendants set the prices for tableside dances and how much of their gross receipts dancers were required to turn over in the form of "house fees" and disc jockey fees, as well as the fact that the defendants set specific schedules for the dancers, created rules of conduct (subject to discipline), check-in and check-out procedures and otherwise controlled the method and manner in which plaintiffs worked, the court held that the defendants were plaintiffs' employers under the FLSA."
The entire order entered by Judge Story can be read here. For a very funny, clean and explanatory video see YouTube. Although I do not know the terms of the settlement, the case was resolved in June, 2012.
Practice pointers. Although Judge Story entered his order last year, the facts of this case can be instructive for any business. If the employer controls the time and manner of work, the worker is an employee, not an independent contractor, no matter what you call them. This is a very complex and fact specific area of the law, there continue to be many cases filed in Alabama alleging violations of the FLSA.
Social Media Update. BirminghamMedicalNews.com is a website that refers to itself as "your primary source for professional healthcare news." They have a blog, and I was asked to submit an entry on the impact of social media in the medical profession. The blog entry can be viewed here. The lessons learned in the medical profession apply as well in any work setting. People continue to do very stupid things on social media sites, and their conduct can have an adverse impact on their employment status.