An exotic dancer has filed suit in DeKalb County, Georgia. The dancer claims she was fired once she became pregnant. This dancer and another have also joined to sue their former employer for violations of minimum wage laws. The complaint alleges that the dancers' employers failed to pay these ladies minimum wage, and they had to make a living off tips alone. The complaint also alleges that the strip club where these ladies worked fined the dancers for showing up late, instituted various fees, and dictated the work of the dancers. The fees paid by the dancers included a Breathalyzer fee, slow night fee, and late for work fee. Traditionally, strip clubs have classified dancers as independent contractors and not employees. Employers owe more of a duty to employees than independent contractors. Labeling a worker as an independent contractor have several benefits such as the employer doesn't have to pay in to the employer's social security and various other taxes. The tradeoff is that independent contractors are supposed to possess a level of autonomy in the work they perform. Here, the strip club is telling the dancer when to show up and when to dance. This situation sounds less like an independent contractor and more like an employee.
The dancers' case will likely turn on whether a judge believes they were employees. Just because the law imposes different duties on employer for employees and independent contractors doesn't mean that employers can simply pick. If employers chose to use independent contractors, those contractors must have the flexibility that goes with working for oneself. However, in this case, it appears the club owners dictated everything that went on at the strip club.
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