Dancer Wage Theft: House Fees Are Illegal
Dancer wage theft is rampant. In many clubs, dancers are misclassified as “independent contractors” and don’t get paycheck. They are also forced to pay “house fees” (i.e. entry fees) to work.
Once a dancer earns tips, she may be forced to pay out tips to VIP hosts, managers, and even the DJ. cuts to disc jockeys, doormen, and managers. On a busy night, at prime time, they can take home upwards of $1,500. On slow nights, the fees can leave them in the red. HOUSE FEES ARE ILLEGAL and any club charging dancers to work is violating the law.
Hundreds of dancers have sought to change the typical wage theft model used by most exotic dance clubs, and have sued these clubs for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or state wage and hour law. The cases argue such common practices leave workers vulnerable to exploitation and wage theft. While few cases have made it to trial, dancers have won most of those that went that far, and at least three appeals courts have ruled that clubs violate wage and hour laws by treating dancers as contractors. Nearly every federal court which has examined the typical wage scheme at an exotic club has found the scheme illegal.
Clubs typically spread misinformation about the misclassification of dancers being somehow beneficial to the dancer; but the reality is dancers should be treated just like every other tipped employee (i.e. bartenders, waitresses, etc.) and compensated by a reasonable hourly rate and tips. The real reason clubs charge house fees and steal tips from dancers is simple: it’s extraordinarily lucrative. Clubs can generate thousands per night—in cash—by charging people to show up to work. An experienced wage and hour lawyer can help you get your stolen tips and house fees back.