The Cheetah, Atlanta. (Credit: Google)
For former stripper Kathryn Monroe, The Cheetah’s decision to pay her to settle two federal lawsuits was worth 5,500 lap dances—charged at $20 for each shimmy and shake.
A former exotic dancer at The Cheetah, Atlanta’s iconic strip club, Monroe settled two labor and civil rights lawsuits against the club for $110,000 and $18,050 in legal fees.
Monroe danced at the Midtown “gentleman’s club” for more than 12 years before she sued The Cheetah and its parent company, International Follies Inc., in federal court in 2016. She claimed the club fired her for complaining about “a morass of illegal activities,” including sexual abuse, harassment, drugs, pandering and prostitution—all of which she contended created a hostile work environment.
Monroe joined a dozen other current and former dancers in 2015 in a separate fair labor standards suit, claiming The Cheetah violated federal wage and hour laws by refusing to pay dancers wages. She claimed the club instead required them to rely on nightly tips as their only form of income.
The Cheetah settled Monroe’s cases July 7 without any admission or other statement regarding the accuracy of her allegations.
Defense attorney Steven Sadow, special counsel at Atlanta’s Schulten Ward Turner & Weiss, said the club and its parent company agreed to resolve the cases without any admission of liability or wrongdoing because the litigation costs would have “far exceeded” the settlement.
Sadow’s co-counsel, Kevin Ward, previously told the Daily Report that The Cheetah began designating its dancers as employees, rather than independent contractors, in 2016, under what he called a “smarter business model.”
On Thursday, Monroe’s attorney, Andrew Coffman of Atlanta’s Parks Chesin & Walbert, acknowledged the allegations incorporated in Monroe’s suits but said he could “neither confirm nor deny they actually happened.”
“The less said the better,” he added. “We are all just glad to have the case resolved, and everybody can move on with their lives.”
Monroe settled her cases just two weeks after another former dancer, Alison Valente, voluntarily dismissed her civil racketeering claims against the club without either a settlement or a confidential agreement. Valente’s decision to dismiss the suit, which included sensational allegations accusing the club of operating as a crime syndicate with “a menu of illegal goods and services to its high-end clientele,” came two years after the dancer went public with her allegations. At the time, Sadow had predicted the court would either dismiss the racketeering claims, or Valente would lose in court.
Valente’s own sex discrimination suit—which includes allegations identical to Monroe’s and mirrors claims in the dismissed racketeering case—is still pending against The Cheetah. So is the wage-and-hour case.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Justin Anand Thursday issued a report declining, for now, to recommend dismissal of counterclaims Cheetah lawyers filed against Valente, alleging slander and defamation based on interviews with local news media and conversations about the suits with former Cheetah employees. Anand said that while Cheetah attorneys had not alleged “sufficient facts” to support plausible claims of slander or defamation, he would allow them to amend the counterclaim to include additional supporting evidence if available.