DENVER -- A national strip club operator forced women to pay before being allowed to work, didn't allow them to earn an hourly wage and charged them fees throughout their shift, according to a class-action lawsuit.
Dancers at some of Denver’s biggest strip clubs, including Diamond Cabaret, have long been considered independent contractors whose wages consist of tips.
But the lawsuit is challenging that, and accusing the club owners off exploiting the women they employ.
Every day and night, dancers take the stage at PT’s Showclub, PT’s Showclub, PT’s All Nude, La Boheme, The Penthouse Club and Diamond Cabaret.
Civil rights attorney Mari Newman said with each dance, the women are being exploited by the very companies they work for, VGC Holding Corp. and Lowrie Management LLLP.
“Its entire business model is based on preying on vulnerable workers, particularly young woman, many single mothers who are doing the best they can do get by but because of the stigma associated with their work, don’t have the power to speak out,” said Newman.
Instead of getting paid to work, Newman said the dancers pay to work.
Charged a fee before each shift, for each private dance given, for access to the VIP room, and for the deejay and bouncers.
“Over the course of a night, it can add up to hundreds of dollars,” Newman said.
It’s money, she says, being taken from hard-working women just trying to earn a living.
“What the club does is illegally classify these employees as independent contractors. But the law is very clear on this point. They are not independent contractors, they are employees who deserve to be paid a wage and who deserve to be paid overtime, who deserve all of the benefits that employees get,” said Newman.
Newman filed the class-action lawsuit Friday. It covers 20 clubs across eight states, five of which are in the Denver metro area.
She said she expects hundreds of women to join in throughout the course of the lawsuit.
VGC Holding and Lowrie Management declined to comment.