Is Exotic Dancer’s Slow Striptease ‘Faulty Workmanship’?

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By Jon Steingart

A prohibition under Wisconsin law against employers docking an employee’s pay “for defective or faulty workmanship” applies to the exotic dancing industry, a federal judge ruled Dec. 29 ( Stevens v. Oval Office, LLC , 2016 BL 434344, E.D. Wis., No. 1:16-cv-01419, 12/29/16 ).

Performer Dawn Stevens sued the Oval Office Gentleman’s Club, claiming the “fines” it subtracted from her pay for giving dances that didn’t meet the club’s standards were barred by state law. The club made deductions for “failing to fully remove all clothing, except for underwear, by the end of the first song when dancing on stage; spending too much time in the dressing room; and not dressing according to the Oval Office’s dress code,” among other violations, she said.

The ruling by Judge William C. Griesbach of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin assigns a broad scope to the state law’s coverage. It applies to “any endeavor individuals are employed to perform,” Griesbach said.

The public policy behind the law is to prevent an “employer from arbitrarily deducting hard earned wages at its prerogative,” Griesbach said. His rejection of Oval Office’s motion to dismiss means Stevens will have an opportunity to demonstrate her allegations are true.

Larry A. Johnson, Summer Murshid and Timothy Maynard of Hawks Quindel S.C. in Milwaukee represented Stevens. Jackson Lewis P.C. attorneys Tony McGrath and Sharon Mollman Elliott in Madison, Wis., and Allan Rubin in Southfield, Mich., represented Oval Office.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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