Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Exotic Dancers in Kansas Obtain Unemployment Benefits

An exotic dancer was terminated in 2005 by the Club Orleans, a strip club in Topeka, Kansas. She responded by filing an unemployment compensation claim. The Club contested her claim, contending legal that, like most exotic dancers, see signed a contract saying she was an independent contractor, and hence not an employee. The law and justice do not look good in this case. She was laid off in 2005, but only now receives a resolution of her claim. It’s Bleak House revisited in the guise of a strip club. She won last week when the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Kansas Department of Labor Contributions Unit that she was an employee rather than an independent contractor. The agency and court looked to the extent of control management possessed over her. She had so little control, even if an “independent contractor,” and management had such pervasive control that she was effectively an employee. The distinction may not matter to the customers, but it has legal significance. She was paid no salary; her income consisted solely from tips, from which she had to pay “non-negotiable rents” for use of the stage and dressing room as well as extra fees for the disc jockeys and bouncers. The rents were higher at peak periods as well as for the more private VIP and “Champagne” rooms to entertain guests. The Club posted billboards with pictures of the performers, who were not identified as independent contractors. She had to sign in with the bouncer at the beginning of her shift, and could not leave until the end of her shift. The Club, House Rules, told her what she could do and what she could charge for it. She could not refuse if a customer wanted to buy a drink, the usually diluted over-priced drink, for her. Management reserved the right to fine or terminate her if she disobeyed any of its rules. Was this the image portrayed in G-String Divas? Thus strippers, aka exotic dancers, are entitled to legal rights against the strip clubs, aka gentlemen’s clubs. Since unemployment benefits were to be paid, the Club now has to pay into the state’s unemployment compensation fund. By similar reasoning these strip clubs, at least in Kansas, will have to workers compensation benefits if she breaks a leg pole dancing or lap dancing or is assaulted by a client. Presumably strippers might now be able to pursue claims for sexual harassment in the workplace under the right circumstances. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Kansas is not Nevada, but the reasoning could apply by analogy to the working girls of Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch. That would make for a great season of Cathouse – the world’s two oldest professions in a cat fight.

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