Strippers at a New York City strip club have won a titillating victory over their employer, as a federal judge found that financially they were being left in the raw and ordered that they receive a minimum wage.
The lawsuit was brought by exotic dancers who are working or once worked at Rick’s Cabaret in midtown Manhattan against Peregrine Enterprises, which operates the club, and its parent company located in Houston.
The club’s argument was that, as independent contractors, the strippers were not eligible for minimum wage, but Manhattan U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer disagreed, ruling that the dancers were the “main attraction” and vital to the club’s success.
Rick’s Cabaret International chief executive officer Eric Langan stated in a news release:
It is hard to imagine how these entertainers should be paid at the minimum wage, which would amount to a fraction of the $1,000 or more that some of them acknowledged they earned in a single night. Additionally, the court did not rule on the issue of whether the substantial amounts entertainers earned are wages under New York State Labor Law.
Attorney Jeffrey A. Kimmel, representing Rick’s Cabaret, asserted that the club will appeal in a news release, saying:
Additionally there are significant remaining issues that were not addressed on these motions, including whether the substantial amounts earned by the plaintiffs can be deemed wages under New York State Law and therefore be applied against any claimed minimum wage obligations. Based on recent developments in the law we also intend to move the court to decertify the class and we are optimistic that the class will be decertified.
Rick’s Cabaret International operates nightclubs across the nation under names such as Rick’s, Tootsie’s Cabaret, Jaguars, Club Onyx, and XTC Cabaret.