Exotic Dancers + Allegedly Malfunctioning Software = FLSA Lawsuit

Exotic Dancers + Allegedly Malfunctioning Software = FLSA Lawsuit Image: iStock

Fifteen exotic dancers who perform lap dances filed a proposed class action complaint in San Antonio federal court, alleging their employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Tiffany’s Cabaret failed to pay the dancers “whatsoever” for regular and overtime hours, according to the complaint.

The dancers, represented by Houston’s Shellist Lazarz Slobin, filed the complaint in Marez v. KHG of San Antonio on July 1 and named as defendants seven individuals and three companies that together allegedly operate and own Tiffany’s.

None of the named individual defendants returned a call to Tiffany’s seeking comment for this report. None of the defendants have filed answers with the court or identified their counsel, according to the federal courts’ online document filing system.

But Scott Schulten, a partner at Schulten Ward & Turner in Atlanta, said he represents defendant KHG of San Antonio in Marez—as well as in a related case filed previously by the same plaintiffs counsel, based on the same facts and allegations but with fewer (and not all of the same) plaintiffs.

“We will defend against these allegations vigorously,” Schulten said.

According to the July 1 complaint in Marez: “Plaintiffs were permitted to keep table dance fees generated while performing” for “club patrons.” But those fees were “tips” as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), and therefore do not satisfy the defendants’ obligations to pay wages. The cabaret allowed dancers to keep dance fees ($5 to $10 per table dance) but the employer did not track time worked with the software it used, known as “Table Dance Manager.”

The dancers allege that “Tiffany’s had previously tracked the hours worked by its dancers, however that time-keeping system broke down and rather than repair or replace it, Tiffany’s chose not to, in order to save money intentionally disregarding its obligation to comply with the FLSA.”

Ricardo Prieto, an associate with Shellist Lazarz who represents the plaintiffs in both cases, said his firm has filed a third case for exotic dancers against a different club. The employer in that case has classified the dancers as independent contractors, so additional issues—specifically the dancers’ status as employees versus independent contractors—will be raised before the plaintiffs get the court to address underlying FSLA concerns, Prieto said.

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