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Friday, June 20, 2014

Ecdysiasts advance

Given SC Governor Nikki Haley's antipathy to public funding of cultural events, it's nice to see progress in the private sector:
Up to 1,000 exotic dancers could recoup back pay from topless nightclubs in South Carolina if a federal court agrees they are entitled to wages from the clubs, in addition to the tips they earned from customers.
That information surfaced Thursday during a court hearing to determine if a lawsuit filed by about a dozen strippers could be expanded to cover other dancers in the Columbia and Greenville areas.
While the case is far from resolved, U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson agreed to certify the matter as a “class action,” meaning other dancers could be notified that they can join the case.
The lawsuit, filed this past spring, provides insight into a long-standing practice at some strip clubs of not paying dancers who perform there.
By policy, those dancers earn their revenue from tips, and in some cases, must share some of those tips with other nightclub staffers and pay a house fee to the club, attorneys said.
Nightclubs consider dancers to be independent contractors, rather than club employees, meaning they receive no direct pay or worker's compensation coverage from the club, or other benefits. The dancers work when they want to, not at the clubs' direction, and they can charge what they want to customers who will pay, said lawyers for the nightclubs.
But dancers who filed suit say exotic performers are employees of the clubs. They are expected to be there to perform and are the reason the clubs are in existence. They say they should be paid minimum wage, which would entitle them to worker's compensation and other protections provided to people employed in other industries.
“This is going really well,” dancer Kaleigh Dittus said during a break in Thursday’s hearing in Columbia.

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