A federal judge in New York has ruled that dancers at Rick’s Cabaret are hourly workers who must be paid minimum wage. According to a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 2,000 dancers in 2009, the company improperly classified strippers as independent contractors. By categorizing dancers in this way, Rick’s Cabaret avoided paying employment taxes, benefits, and hourly wages to strippers at the company’s 23 clubs located across the nation. Additionally, independent contractors are not entitled to the same legal protections under state and federal labor laws that employees receive. In effect, dancers at the New York club were being paid solely in tips and subject to fees and fines imposed by management without legal protections.
Judge Paul Engelmayer determined the dancers were employees after analyzing the degree of control company management exerted over the women. According to the judge, the long list of entertainer guidelines and fees demonstrated that the company “exerted significant control over its dancers’ behavior.” At this time, no award for back pay has been determined. Rick’s Cabaret CEO Eric Langan stated the company plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
Although classifying strippers as independent contractors has apparently become an industry-wide practice, a number of dancers have won judgments against strip clubs in a variety of states across the country in recent years. Unfortunately, many dancers continue to work despite an erroneous employee status because they are simply unaware of their rights.
Many businesses find that it can be advantageous to misclassify a worker as an independent contractor or consultant. An employer is not required to provide overtime wages, meal breaks, or benefits to an independent worker. In addition, an employer is generally shielded from liability related to the actions of an independent contractor. According to the United States Department of Labor, up to 30 percent of employers misclassify workers as consultants.
Employees in the construction, day labor, security, technology, agriculture, and healthcare industries are frequently misclassified as independent contractors. Too often, workers are afraid to speak up out of fear of losing their livelihood. In recent years, laws were enacted in both New York and New Jersey to combat worker misclassification in the construction industry. Additionally, misclassified employees may choose to file a lawsuit against an employer who exerts significant control over his or her job duties. If you feel you were misclassified as an independent contractor by your employer, you should discuss your potential claims with a quality employment lawyer.
Please call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997 if you believe you were improperly classified as an independent contractor in New York or New Jersey. The experienced employment law attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former workers in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve improper worker classification. To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable advocate, contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.
More Blog Posts:
Arbitrator Recommends $4.5 Million Award for Sexual Harassment of Former Long Branch School District Worker, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, September 19, 2013
High Profile Lawsuit Demonstrates Why New Jersey Employers Should Always Protect Workers From Unlawful Sex Harassment, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, September 19, 2013
Strippers win labor fight in New York, by Emily Jane Fox, money.cnn.com
Photo credit: dave, morgueFile