Daily Labor Report® is the objective resource the nation’s foremost labor and employment professionals read and rely on, providing reliable, analytical coverage of top labor and employment...
Nov. 17 — Dancers at a Mississippi strip club may pursue a Fair Labor Standards Act collective lawsuit alleging they are “employees” entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay, a federal district court decided ( Brooks v. Illusions, Inc. , 2016 BL 382033, S.D. Miss., No. 16-31, 11/16/16 ).
Entertainers at adult night clubs in recent years have been challenging their designations as independent contractors and arguing they should be considered employees because the clubs closely control their working conditions and hours.
Some courts have looked favorably on such workers’ claims, deciding that dancers are employees entitled to pay under the FLSA and state laws even if they signed agreements that say they are contractors.
For example, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in June ruled dancers at a Maryland establishment were employees rather than independent contractors. The Labor Department in that case filed a brief supporting the dancers’ legal arguments.
In the Mississippi case, Ashley Brooks and two other dancers alleged Illusions Inc., which operates the club, wrongly classified them as independent contractors not covered by the FLSA.
They sought to represent an “opt in” class of similarly situated current or former dancers for Illusions.
The dancers satisfied a “fairly lenient standard” for conditional certification of an FLSA collection action, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi said Nov. 16.
The club argued the dancers aren’t “similarly situated” because the plaintiffs themselves said stripping is the “artistic removal of clothing.” The club said that means what each dancer does is unique and differs from her co-workers’ duties.
Differing performance styles don’t mean the dancers aren’t similar enough to pursue a group lawsuit, Judge Keith Starrett said.
“All the dancers were subject to the same contract and performed the same type of duties, even if they put their own ‘artistic expressions’ into their acts,” the court said.
Court-approved notices approved now will be sent to other current or former Illusions dancers inviting them to join in the lawsuit. After the notice period is completed, Illusions will have another opportunity to argue an FLSA collective action isn’t appropriate.
An attorney representing Illusions Nov. 17 declined to comment on the ruling.
Joel F. Dillard in Jackson, Miss., represented the dancers. Anders Ferrington in Jackson represented Illusions Inc. and its corporate president.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at email@example.com
Text of the decision is available at http://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/Brooks_v_Illusions_Inc_No_516CV31KSMTP_2016_BL_382033_SD_Miss_Nov.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)