Employers are always looking for ways to get the most out of their workers, and sometimes this means resorting to illegal measures. One common way for companies to take advantage of their employees is by classifying them as independent contractors, rather than employees of the company. Under the relevant labor law, employees can only be classified as independent contractors if they meet certain requirements. These requirements include things like being able to make their own hours, choosing the location where they work, and working without a dress-code determined by the employer.
Classifying workers as independent contractors works out well for employers, because then the companies don’t have to pay benefits such as Social Security or health insurance for those employees. Strippers are particularly vulnerable to being mislabeled as independent contractors, even when they don’t meet the requirements for that position. In many cases, dance clubs even require the dancers to pay the club in order to dance there, put their tips into a tip pool, and punish dancers who complain.
The courts have recently seen a surge in wage and hour lawsuits dealing with the misclassification of exotic dancers and judges have been ruling in favor of the dancers. In one class action lawsuit filed in New York in 2012, the court ordered the owner of an adult nightclub to pay back wages to 1,900 dancers who had worked for the club over a three-year period. Another class of dancers who filed a wage and hour lawsuit against Spearmint Rhino won a $13 million settlement for unpaid wages and overtime.
The most recent lawsuit to reach the courts alleging that a dance club has been abusing its dancers was filed against Pink Poodle by 11 of the club’s former dancers. The lawsuit alleges that the club failed to pay dancers minimum wage or overtime, as required by law, and that dancers often had to pay the club in order to dance there.
The 11 dancers have a combined 57 years of dancing at Pink Poodle, which works out to an average of a little more than five years for each employee. If the dancers are successful, the club could end up paying millions in back wages and unpaid overtime.
The lawsuit further alleged that the dance club did not pay any wages at all to some workers and that the club would often “threaten retaliation” to any dancers who complained about the work environment there.
Gregory Douglas, the attorney who is representing the dancers in their wage and hour lawsuit, said that many of the dancers didn’t even know they were being taken advantage of. Some of them reported collecting up to half a million dollars a year in tips and did not think they had grounds for a lawsuit against their employer. This is very common, according to Douglas, especially in strip clubs where “some very big, sophisticated companies have violations of the California Labor Code.”
This is why it is so important for employees to understand their rights under the relevant labor law. Companies that take advantage of their workers rely on their employee’s ignorance of everything that they are entitled to under the law.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for misclassifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Palos Hills and Orland Park. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Cicero, Berwyn and Stone Park overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.