Court strips defendants of defense that exotic dancers are independent contractors

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by Steve Larson

On September 7, 2011, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted summary judgment in favor of the approximately 80 current and former exotic dancers represented by Nichols Kaster, PLLP who are suing Atlanta’s Club Onyx for unpaid wages.  The dancers brought the suit in 2009 under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), alleging that the club misclassified them as independent contractors and, consequently, failed to pay them the minimum wages due under the FLSA.

In response to the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and after a thorough discussion of the “economic realities” of the dancers’ and club’s relationship, Judge Richard W. Story ruled, “The Court has found that the Club’s degree of control over the work of entertainers, the entertainers’ opportunity for profit and loss, the entertainers’ relative investment, the lack of specialized skill required to be an entertainer, and the integral nature of nude entertainment to the Club’s business support a finding that an employer-employee relationship existed between the Club and Plaintiffs. Considering these factors that the Eleventh Circuit has identified as relevant, and in light of the record as a whole, the Court finds that Plaintiffs should have been classified as employees under the FLSA.” The Court then ordered the parties to mediate the case.