$2.3 Million Settlement Resolves Misclassification, Overtime Dispute Between Exotic Dancers and Clubs, Leaves Question of Whether They Were Employees or Independent Contractors Unanswered
The plaintiffs in a putative collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., have settled their dispute with the defendants, which included allegations of misclassification and failure to pay overtime wages. A federal magistrate recommended approval of a settlement in which the defendants agreed to pay $2.3 million to the plaintiffs. Jones, et al v. JGC Dallas LLC, et al, No. 3:11-cv-02743, findings, conclusions, and recommendation (N.D. Tex., Nov, 12, 2014). The district court approved the settlement, with some adjustments, on December 24, 2014.
The initial plaintiffs in Jones worked for clubs owned and operated by the defendant throughout Texas and in Phoenix, Arizona. They added additional club owners in several amended complaints. They alleged that their primary job duties were to dance on stage and to perform individual dances for customers. They received no payment from the defendants, but instead had to pay a fee to the defendants for each shift. The defendants also allegedly required them to share the money they received from customers with other employees, such as managers and DJs. The defendants set the rates for all of the services expected of the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was one of many brought by people, mostly women, who work or have worked as exotic dancers at clubs around the country, claiming that the clubs misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees in violation of the FLSA. Employees are subject to the FLSA's protections regarding wages and hours of work, while independent contractors are not. Courts around the country have reached different conclusions regarding whether exotic dancers are independent contractors or employees, although the trend seems to be in favor of considering them employees.