Shakers Studies: FLSA Factor #1

The first factor in determining whether a worker is an employee, under the fair labor standards act, is described as:

"The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal's business."

Shakers exists solely to make money off of dancers and the customers who come to see them. This factor is the easiest to determine. Sometimes clubs that serve liquor or food will argue that their focal point is making money off of liquor and food, but even those clubs lose that particular argument. Of course Shakers, which does not serve liquor, would not have this factor in their favor.

 

Shakers Studies: Appeal

Since last month's post, I have received news that the appeal Shakers filed finished. The results of the appeal are somewhat disappointing. While it was decided that Elizabeth Mays was an employee, the appeal took away a bunch of her money that she should be receiving. Nebraska sucks, and so even if someone is found to have been misclassified, that doesn't necessarily mean one would be given money that was stolen from them by greedy small businesses.

Small business owners often like to abuse employees. They get away with it, by victimizing themselves in comparison to large corporations and the government. Supporting small businesses does nothing positive for worker rights.

Original Judgement

Appeal

Pasted below is my Whores of Yore article from last month:

In August of 2017, I began working at a strip club called Shakers. When I was hired, Shakers classified dancers as “lease holders.” By the end of my time at the club in December of 2017, they decided to start classifying dancers as employees, starting January 1st. While Shakers will never admit that my pressure had anything to do with the switch, my newest series on StripperLaborRights.com will discuss circumstances surrounding the switch, during the period of time that I worked there. This series will explore each Economic Realities factor of interest at Shakers, and each person of interest within this time frame.

Waverly, Nebraska-- population 3,500-- is home to Shakers. Prior to European arrival, the area was home to indigenous people including the Sioux, Lakota and Pawnee.

Some would describe Shakers as “in the middle of nowhere.” The club is a large pink barn-like structure that sits among miles upon miles of corn, with a freight train running through town, which is across the road parallel to the the club, just a turn off of Cornhusker Highway in the eerie open sky of Eastern Nebraska-- a place where tornadoes brew in the Spring time.

In early 2017, Shakers lost a misclassification suit that it had been fighting. Elizabeth Mays, represented by attorney Kathleen Neary, claimed that she was a misclassified employee at Shaker's while she danced there. Among behaviors dictated to Mays while she worked at Shakers included making dancers clean the bathroom, preventing them from leaving or entering the dressing room whenever they wanted, telling them to “act like ladies,” being subject to song selections and a stage rotation dictated by the Shakers DJ. The judge ruled in Elizabeth Mays's favor, meaning that she was entitled to all of her back wages, fees and staff tips.

Different strip clubs respond to lost misclassification suits in different ways. Larger clubs that can afford to, will usually conduct misclassification business as usual and pay off settlements to make their problems go away on the rare occasion that they arise. After losing a multi-million-dollar class action, Rick's Cabaret chose to correctly classify their dancers, by acknowledging them as employees.

Sometimes after losing a lawsuit, a club will go in a different direction. That direction involves removing most, if not all, of their rules that misclassified employee dancers had to follow prior to the lawsuit. In doing so, the club hopes to avoid future misclassification suits. To a degree, that is the direction that Shaker's chose to go. However, so long as they choose not to call their dancers employees, clubs like this will always be liable for a misclassification suit.

Many employee status experts would argue that there is no way strip club dancers will ever be anything except employees, due to the fact that dancers are an integral part of the business. Even when all of the rules are removed, according to many employee status experts, the dancers are essentially still employees, who could unionize if they ever wanted to. Continuing to classify dancers as non-employees was a risk that Shakers knowingly took after losing their suit. It was a risk that they decided to stop taking after I worked for them-- at least for a while.

Shakers was strip club #69 for me, year #12, state #8, vehicle #4. Blacklisted out of most of my beloved blue state territory, my labor activism and lawsuit fame forced me to resort to dancing in red states. I had been hearing about Shaker's through the grapevine for a few years before they were sued. I forgot that they had been sued until after I started working there. Several transient dancers who I spoke with in places like Colorado, Chicago, Minnesota or Nevada told me the same things-- that Nebraska is boring as hell, but the money is amazing, and that the money at Shaker's was amazing. For a lonely pink barn in the middle of corn, Shaker's is somewhat well known to USA traveling strippers on the open road, because of it's accessibility and ability to provide an economic windfall for women in need. Waverly is just a few minutes away from Lincoln, and for a red state, Lincoln is a relaxed, progressive college town.

I have strong reason to believe that several weeks into my Shakers work life, the staff found out about my history and website. As a result, I had an experience at Shakers that was different than a lot of dancers who worked there. The staff explicitly told me that I didn't have to do things which they gave no explanation to other dancers about, such as participate in stage rotation. For the most part, I participated anyway, but near the end, I was taking them up on their offers not to do stage. I was also exercising other Economic Realities freedoms, in ways that seemed to upset Shakers. New dancers who were unaware of The Economic Realities Test were asking me questions about how I was able to skip stage. I didn't want them to think that I had special privileges, so I began explaining to them that Shakers got sued and that the workplace obligations dancers thought were rules were not legally rules. I created and distributedKnow Your Rights fliers, to notify them that they too could break these rules. Like most strip clubs, Shakers had a core group of loyal dumb scabs who harassed, assaulted, threatened and slandered me in reaction to my speaking out and not conforming. They were all shook up into a frenzied anger, as stripper scabs become when cool things happen that they wish they could have enough confidence to do themselves. It was an extremely tense situation, all the more because Shakers is such a small structure in terms of square footage.

By the end of my time at Shakers, management announced that they would be switching over to employee classification, starting on the first of January when the “lease” contracts expired. It was a Holy Shit moment for me for sure. I never had that happen before. My manager told me that they “had been trying to do it for a few years now.” I don't believe him. It doesn't take years for a small business to make a simple switch to recognize that their workers are employees. I firmly believe that they made the switch because I started talking about their lost lawsuit and I was behaving like a non-employee, spreading non-employee distinctions with fliers throughout the club to encourage other dancers to know their rights.

Their employee switch came with a catch, which they advertised on their facebook. It appeared as though Shakers was intentionally advertising employee status as unappealing, by offering only part time hours that they picked, and other unsavory rules that they didn't need to enforce. I did not stick around to feel what it was like to be an employee dancer at Shakers. They hinted that I may not get the hours that I wanted. This was a threat to my survival. I would not have been unable to sustain myself financially. While I am an amazing hustler, Shakers is a toxic place that was filled with irrational women angry at me for talking about or exercising my rights, so these sad pathetic women did whatever they could to sabotage my income during my last week working there.

About a week after January first, I called Shakers. I wanted to know how the employee status switch was going. The manager informed me that about a week after switching to employee status, the club took the employee status away and began calling dancers “members” of their membership club. I had never heard of such a classification before, but it sounded like some more lease holder misclassification bullshit. After I asked a few more questions, the manager hung up on me. As far as I know, they are currently calling their dancers “members” instead of employees.

This Shakers Studies series will be of interest to any labor law advocate who is wondering how a small club reacts to a lost misclassification suit and subsequently having me come to town. It is interesting from a sociological, anthropological and cultural perspective, because Shakers is a place that was willing to comply with labor laws more than most clubs, but a place where the very workers who are oppressed by widespread dancer misclassification and could have fought for their rights, chose to behave like psychotic freaks instead. No pension, healthcare, paid sick days or job security will ever come to any of the batshit crazy lowlife women who threatened me, my life and my income.

Shakers was a turning point for me, and we will explore the many tentacles of that in the new series: Shakers Studies.

Press Rejections

A few months ago, I announced that StripperLaborRights.com would be featured in the New York Times. A journalist from that publication had contacted me back in January about an article, and I had spent hours on the phone, letting her interview me. However, in the subsequent months after that post, our communication fizzled and she decided to do articles about pregnancy in the workplace instead. I told her to fuck off.

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A few weeks ago, some journalist with Associated Press contacted me about sex workers being excluded from the #MeToo movement. However, since she misread my website and thought I had retired from dancing already, she didn't actually want to interview for her piece. She just wanted to waste my emotional labor and time by contacting me. I emailed her a string of expletives, and then she emailed me one more time to tell me that she really liked my website.

There were a couple of inaccurate and unauthorized articles published on the internet, about a lawsuit in Southern Minnesota that I am currently involved in.

Late last year, around the time that the #NYCStripperStrike and #MeToo really took off, what happened was a lot of journalists thought they could catapult their careers, by wasting the time of sex workers who are perfectly capable of writing for themselves. Journalists have a history of exploiting vulnerable people for click bait, wasting our time, emotional labor and energy. I am haunted all the time by that horrible, inaccurate and grotesque article that Bryce Covert put out about me on ThinkProgress, and I'd love to meet her in a back alley some time to sort it out.

Ear Damage

Many strip clubs violate OSHA standards with regards to noise safety in the workplace. They misclassify dancers, and sometimes misclassify workers such as DJs, security, bartenders and cashiers. That way, strip clubs don't have to worry as much about ear damage that workers experience. As a general rule, workers should be able to hear one another speaking from three feet away. If not, ear plugs should be worn. Strippers and staff almost never wear ear plugs, but owners don't care about any of that.

Here's a guide on ear safety to get you started: Ear Safety

I have been so pre-occupied with misclassification and title VII violations that I have barely given attention to hearing damage. Sadly, I have never filed an OSHA complaint about ear safety, despite many opportunities to do so. There is only so much time in the day. My hearing abilities are irreversibly damaged after 12+ years.

It would be nice if some of the more popular dancer websites and internet personalities gave attention to stripper ear damage.

Is Greg Flaig in Jail?

An anonymous tipster told me that Greg Flaig was put in jail. Flaig does this thing where he tells dancers that he has a special relationship with the local police, then he speaks to dancers on behalf of the police about club rules. The trouble is, he makes stuff up. The police found out about it, called some clubs and told them Greg's a liar. I had nothing to do with that, but I do have some audio recordings of him speaking to me about how I wasn't supposed to be using the customer bathroom. He suggested that the police would come in to help him explain things to me. Recently, I learned about the broader scope of his misrepresentations. If anyone has information about his time in jail or related subjects, please contact me by clicking the contact tab at the top of this page.

I wonder if Greg's wife Carrie is worried!

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Some Bullshit in The Injustice System

Many businesses really enjoy misclassifying their employees and denying them their rights. This can lead to death, suffering, discrimination, injuries, union busting and sexual assault in the workplace. Strip clubs definitely love this, but business owners in other industries love it too. Arbitration is a bunch of bullshit, and today a new union-busting decision said that it is OK for workplaces to continue pushing forced arbitration and anti-class-action clauses in their contracts.

Please remember to vote, everybody. It matters. Thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer for trying. This wouldn't have happened if Merrick Garland was seated with them.

Today is a sad day.

Who are The Wobblies?

When most people think of unions, the AFL-CIO may come to mind. However, there is another organization called the Industrial Workers of the World, otherwise known as the IWW or The Wobblies.

The dancers at Lusty Lady Lounge were Wobblies, as are most unions made up of extremely far left people. The Wobblies have been around for a little over one-hundred years, and were founded in Chicago. I highly recommend choosing the IWW for strippers who are unionizing, rather than the AFL-CIO-- because smashing the white supremacist, imperialist, war mongering, capitalist patriarchy is really important for the survival of our species and planet! Their website is IWW.org.

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Toilet Talk

Apparently at full time workplaces outside of the strip club world, talking about menstrual problems and going to the bathroom whenever is not normal. Even with other women coworkers, this is not a normal thing to do or to openly joke about. Non-stripper women don't always like to talk about gushy blood chunks and period poop around the water cooler.

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Recently I have been pursuing a career in the building trades, which is male dominated. I was informed that bathroom breaks should be limited, and when I tried to have friendly conversation with the small amount of other women I encountered in the facility, they did not have the same bathroom warmness that strippers usually show to one another about being a cunted creature. I spent today in agonizing endometrium pain, oozing with blood, bloated, and in more uterine muscular agony than hauling cement caused to the rest of my muscles. I didn't want to take pain killers for it, because that would have slowed me down. I couldn't smoke medical marijuana for it in the bathroom stall. I didn't want to spend a half hour or more sitting on the toilet like I usually do, because that was not permitted. It was the single most physically painful day of my entire life. All of this got me to thinking about some of the wonderful things that I have experienced in strip club workplaces, that are uncommon outside of the sex worker world. It brought me to tears thinking about, but maybe that was just my hormones. Here's an incomplete list of how the rest of the world's workplaces should strive to be more like strip clubs:

#1: Strippers often make more money while they are bleeding. I have sold my blood for hundreds of dollars. Many customers just like the odor, and will buy dances for that reason. If it grosses you out to read that, it just means that you are fucked up, not me.

#2: Save for a few clubs, male strip club staff are generally sympathetic to menstrual problems. They are usually very blasé about hearing explicit details of biological realities. Over the years, I have discussed the passing of bloody tissue chunks, endometriosis and menstrual diarrhea with hundreds of bouncers, DJs, managers and door men. Most of them are unphased by all of this. While they may be financially exploitative and misclassifing, one thing these men do have going for them that most other men don't, is that it's very easy for a woman to talk to them about unpleasant bathroom issues.

#3: Strippers talk about menstruation with each other ALL. THE. TIME. It is open, honest, frank and relieving to have the comradeship of my coworkers to just know what I am talking about and not judge any of it. It can be funny or vulgar at times, but it's mostly business as usual. Many times, I have had a conversation with a coworker while casually changing a tampon right in front of them, or vice-versa. It's not a big deal at all, nor should it be.

#4: Strippers can take time off of work while they are bleeding. Many do this if the pain is unbearable. Strippers who choose to work during this time can sit on the toilet for as long as they want, in most clubs that I have worked. This is one way to not get in trouble for missing a stage rotation, with the exception of a few clubs, out of the 74 that I have worked at.

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The world outside of strip clubs is filled with toilet shaming and secrecy. Many people hate themselves and what their bodies do, and feel weird about strippers who love their bodies. Part of loving our bodies is not being ashamed to profit from, talk about, joke about, or take care of our blood and related subjects. It shouldn't be a secret in the workplace. If sitting on the toilet in blinding pain for a half an hour to squeeze out blood chunks and shit is slowing down the rest of the crew, then maybe that's a signal that the world is moving too fast, too cold, and too unsympathetic.

Menstruation is a medical issue, and it's fucking disgusting that women don't get to have paid disability for it. Many people with disabilities are drawn to sex work, because it allows for flexibility and enough money to take time off when needed. Many shitty feminists don't want to admit that menstruation is a medical issue that deserves disability checks for workers, and many of these same shitty feminists are against sex work. Sadly, many misogynist men who run the world agree with them. Their whole system is a bloody mess.

I'd rather be banished to a menstrual hut in the woods than to work with endometriosis. It would be a wonderful vacation. If only I could be so lucky.

Thanks, strip clubs, for making me so shameless. It's too bad the rest of the world has not caught up.

ABC in California!

Congratulations to California adult entertainers and strippers! It just became much easier to argue your employee status. This new ruling will encourage more lawyers to take cases when they might not have before. Hopefully more brazen dancers will sue their misclassifying clubs and have an easier time unionizing. Good luck to you all!

For the rest of the country-- please remember to vote for the farthest left candidates as possible so we can be as cool as the 9th circuit.

 

Hang Me For It.

Happy May Day, everybody! In May of 1886, the Haymarket affair happened in Chicagoland, with Louis Lingg being the most photogenic:

 "... I despise you, I despise your order, your laws, your force propped authority. Hang me for it."

"... I despise you, I despise your order, your laws, your force propped authority. Hang me for it."

Although I am currently in the process of transitioning out of dancing, my heart will always be very connected to the strip club industry. One of the most common questions I get asked in the workplace by customers is: What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?

Let me tell you.

Becoming a stripper was the second best decision that I have ever made in my life. I have never regretted it, and never will. As an alternative to the poverty wages in many other industries available to me, stripping has given me enough money and free time to achieve almost all of my childhood dreams, the ability to pay for car repairs at a moment's notice, veterinarian bills for countless companion animal medical emergencies, the ability to visit all 48 of the connected United States, backpack in Western Europe, eat from the finest vegan menus on Earth, donate to causes I care about, spend months hiking along the Mississippi River, take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, learn how to choke out men with my bare hands. It has given me the free time to spend days and weeks reading and writing. Being a stripper has exposed me to the realities of labor organizing, be them tragedy or triumph. Being a stripper has taught me to be strong, stoic and graceful in the workplace while everyone around me wants me to fall apart. Being a stripper has taught me more about human psychology than one would ever learn in a classroom, and more about countering male domination than any women's studies degree ever could. It has taught me how misleading the media is. I've paid off my student loans from that useless English degree. I've maintained my algebra skills, as I divide hours by dollars by VIP booths and stage rotations, figuring out bills as I multiply twenties, adding in time constraints and deadlines. I've been exposed to all kinds of music that I may have never heard, and learned how powerful song lyrics can be. I've met people from all over the world and motivated them to admit their deepest secrets to me in their most candid of moments. I've been paid hundreds of dollars to remove soiled menstrual products from my body and give them to customers. I've learned to be not only shameless about my body, but proud. I've met countless washed up celebrities. I've learned how to spin very fast around a high metal pole, and had the privilege of watching other pole dancers with an artistic expertise more striking than any Mozart symphony or Michelangelo painting. I'll always be thankful for what stripping has done for me, a proletariat, within a late capitalist society. It was always the best option. Yeah, I've been pretty damned lucky, and I'm gonna miss it.

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To the individuals who think it's funny or cool to shame someone simply for being a stripper-- it is because you are an astonishingly stupid person. If you are a woman who thinks you are better than a stripper, you can fuck off too. If you are a stripper who has ever experienced problems from people who do those things, just understand that the world is full of very stupid people. You are much smarter than them, and they can fuck off, no matter who they are.

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This will probably be my last May Day as a stripper before joining an AFL-CIO organization. This is partially because I am being forced into an early stripper retirement from all of the blacklisting and harassment related to stripper labor rights. I have no rose-colored misconceptions about my new career choice. In all likelihood, I will make less money, work more hours and experience disrespect in ways that mirror my current occupation. Sadly, I know of no modern or desirable anarchist utopia that would save me from my current snafu or give me the standard of living that I am accustomed to. Most anarchists who I have met in life were not enjoyable company.

So much of being a stripper is about rebellion-- rebellion from submitting to misogynist slut shaming, rebellion from all the stigma, rebellion from being expected to submit to a man's requests for physical contact, rebellion from a traditional 9-5-- rebellion from the eight hour work day.

Often times in my adult life, I have had an eight hour work week. Sometimes in my adult life, I have eight hour work months.

Being pro-worker but anti-work, I'm going to sit this one out today folks, while enjoying my favorite take on work by Bob Black:

 

 

Are Strippers Ever Non-Employees?

Earlier posts on the site suggest that dancers who work in clubs are always employees, because the nature of a club atmosphere and because dancers are integral to the business. Later posts suggest that if a club takes away enough Economic Realities rules, perhaps a true "lease holder" relationship is possible.

My advice to dancers suing their clubs, is that arbitrators and juries will not like ideologues who believe the former. They may think you are a wingnut. When testifying, you will be asked about this. It is up to you how you want to accurately navigate answering this question.

If you are working at a new club that knows about your past litigation, the club will intentionally allow you to do whatever you want, to create the idea that you are a contractor/lease holder, and that their club is different than the others you have sued. Clubs have done this to me, so that lawyers won't risk representing me. After time goes by, the club will either terminate me or encourage dancer-scabs to harass and assault me so much that I leave because it is too dangerous to stay. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a job in the industry while maintaining mental/emotional well-being. 

We Are Dancers (WADUSA.org) and Codi Schei are investing much of their energy into promoting the idea that every dancer should be a "small business" and not an employee. Codi Schei, as mentioned in a previous post, is a bougie Downer's Grove person. She does full service sex work and has worked in clubs that misclassify dancers, as well as clubs that are brothels. I consider Codi Schei a Trojan Horse to the issues of Stripper Labor Rights. My advice to dancers new to labor rights, is that it's totally OK for you to not want to work in a brothel or not want to be around a bunch of scabs who don't understand misclassification. Groups like SWOP would disagree with dancers like me on that issue, but fuck 'em.

Lusty Lady Lounge is still the only stripper workplace to have successfully unionized. Most people from Lusty Lady will tell you that however many rules a club takes away on the Economic Realities Test, dancers will always be employees. I may have interpersonal problems with my West coast associations, but still understand how powerful their writing can be. Thanks, Lusty Ladies, for showing what can be possible when educated dancers come together against oppressors and stand up for themselves. Here is a great guide for newcomers:

No Justice No Piece

Meet Greg Flaig

Greg Flaig is a loser from Ohio who works as a "consultant" for strip clubs.

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For those unfamiliar with union busting, companies will often hire a "consultant" to do just that. Greg Flaig is a strip-club-specific union buster. He likes to spread lies and misinformation about me in Ohio and surrounding states, so that other dancers become afraid of me and want to kill me. Some of Greg Flaig's business behaviors are illegal though, so his consulting group is getting sued. I am also happy to announce that I am suing him, because the type of conspiracy that he is engaging in is illegal. Clubs that Greg Flaig has consulted are also getting sued for misclassification and illegal termination.

I don't shut down clubs, I don't video tape dancers at work, and I don't have a secret spy come in to record clubs for me. If you ever meet Greg Flaig, know that he is a lying piece of shit. If I get murdered in Ohio or surrounding states, please understand that there is a possibility my blood will be on Greg Flaig's hands.

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Your Club Won't Shut Down.

One major source of the harassment and threats that I receive from dancers, is the notion that stripper labor rights will shut down clubs.

Misclassification or other stripper lawsuits do not shut down clubs. The reasons clubs shut down are usually related to IRS or vice raids. Stripper Labor Rights is unrelated to those issues.

A classic union-busting tactic that businesses often use, is to say that they will shut down if labor conditions are improved. Gullible workers fall for these kinds of tactics, and accept their unsavory working conditions, because they think that's their only option to continue providing for themselves and their dependents. Strippers are often very gullible subservients to their bosses, in the most intimate of ways.

There are all kinds of worker rights obstacles in the strip club industry that aren't always as prevalent in other industries, so union busting and misclassification are a lot easier for business owners to get away with.

I'd really appreciate it if my coworkers of past, present and future would stop worrying that their club is going to close down because of me. I'd really like the threats and harassment to stop. The people who tell you those lies are taking advantage of your naive ignorance to union busting. They want to align me with right wingers or radical feminists who try to shut down clubs, and use this as a red herring to the issues of stripper labor rights.

Entitlement

I receive regular harassment, death threats and assaults from other women who are scabs or scab sympathizers-- the kinds of people who are uneducated about the beautiful history of labor struggles. One word that these ignorant scabs and scab sympathizers use when describing me is "entitled." If I leverage independent contractor perks, these ignorant people will call me entitled. If I suggest that a workplace is misclassifying, and perhaps a union with recognized employee status should be respected, I am also called entitled. These kinds of people expect me to complacently go along with being misclassified. These kinds of people are usually other women in the industry.

I want other dancers to understand what you are entitled to under each classification. I don't want you to ever let a scab or a scab sympathizer make you feel bad for being entitled to your rights. Some of the best people in history succeeded because they knew their worth, but who were called "entitled" by other people who did not care about worth.

If you are truly an independent contractor, you are entitled to leave or enter your workplace whenever you wish. You are entitled to not be infantilized by your business partner, which is the club, by having them keep your money all night. You are entitled to treat your services like a business, set your own prices, and decide how to perform those services within the confines of the law. You are entitled to wear whatever you want. You are entitled to so much freedom if you are an independent contractor, freedom that will help you run your life like a personal business. You are entitled to tell the club owner what misclassification is, without experiencing negativity. You are entitled to exercise every factor on the Economic Realities Test that defines what a contractor or lease holder is. You are entitled to so much, and worth so much.

If you are a misclassified employee, you are entitled to a lot too. You are entitled to Title VII protections. You are entitled to form a labor union. You are entitled to a living wage. If you work full time, you are entitled to many benefits that current laws deny part time employees. You are entitled to stand up for yourself if your rights are violated. If you are misclassified, you are entitled to your back wages and other stolen fees. The checks that you will receive is money that is yours, money that you are 100% entitled to. Any woman to say you are greedy because you want your money is a really sad person who should not be influencing other women in any way.

You are entitled to all of these wonderful things, because there were entitled people of the past who fought for all of us. Entitled people like Jimmy Hoffa, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs, Samuel Gompers, Joe Hill, Frances Perkins, Timothy Healy, William B. Fitzgerald, Timothy Murphy, Michael J. Quill, just to name a few. In their day, they too experienced threats and criticism for being "entitled." How dare one tell a business how to operate? How dare one not just leave and go someplace else? How entitled.

For so long, strip clubs have felt like the entitled ones. They have a workforce that isn't always respected in society, a workforce that has been laughed at when bringing labor issues to agencies like the EEOC or NLRB. They have a workforce that so-called feminists often scorn, or tell them to just quit their jobs if they hate it so much. They have a workforce that is left out of labor rights, because the stigma that being a stripper carries is not acceptable. Because of this stigma, society has pushed dancers into the shadows. Entitled strip clubs have felt comfortable calling dancers contractors, but controlling them like employees. Entitled clubs have felt comfortable firing dancers who stand up for their rights, be them contractor or employee rights. For so long, women have accepted lower wages in the regular workforce, and told to feel thankful for bread crumbs. For so long, strip clubs have felt entitled to break labor laws. It has happened for so long, that to be a woman with the audacity to shamelessly stand up for those rights will result in threats, violence, and being called "entitled." People have lived so long with an accepted reality that favors entitled strip clubs, over dancer rights.

I'm entitled to what I have and so much more. I'm going to keep being entitled, and I know that other modern labor advocates will also continue to be entitled by fighting for correct worker classification, a higher minimum wage, shorter work weeks, benefits for part time workers, protections for contractors and so-called "lease holders," and a more strict way of protecting those who stand up for themselves. Yeah, you're goddamn right I'm entitled.

 

Full Nudity in Nebraska

The right to get fully nude in the adult entertainment workplace, without cited for prostitution, harassed or intimidated, is in jeopardy in the state of Nebraska right now. This is an area of law that labor activists and club owners are able to agree on.

I suggest that club owners in Nebraska look into the state of Oregon's nudity ruling, which allows dancers to be fully nude in clubs that serve liquor. It is a freedom of expression and human rights issue.

While I have many reasons to hate Larry Flynt, one issue that the Mohney and Flynt families and I agree on is that abolitionists who try to control nudity are causing harm to workers who choose to be nude.

Political figure Theresa Thibodeau, of Nebraska, is harming consensual workers when she makes false statements about liquor and nudity. If she really cared about the lives of strippers, she would be focusing her energy on misclassified employees and unions. Instead, she has an odd obsession with nudity that is not helping anybody. Her actions say more about her own psychological issues than those of other people. Please contact her and let her know that she should shift her focus from regulating nudity to misclassification and worker rights:

Phone: (402) 471-2714
Email: tthibodeau@leg.ne.gov

Lease Agreements

Since so many strip clubs are losing misclassification suits, one route that some of them have taken is to rename their misclassified employees "lease holders." The clubs treat them the same way they would as misclassified employees, but pretend like the dancers are "leasing space" to work instead. It's the same independent contractor bullshit, but with different etymology. The term is still pretty new to me. I haven't seen any losses of lawsuits with this new name. My guess would be that there are a lot of settlements going on that aren't in the news.

I had a joyous settlement with Silk Exotic Madison last year when they fired me as a "lease holder." The NLRB took good care of me. You can search for that post in the site search bar at the top of this page.

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The Nebraska club that I mentioned in a previous post also called us "lease holders." However, that place was a unique anomaly that I have no future plans to sue for misclassification. StripperLaborRights.com is gearing up for another series, this time about that Nebraska club, because the situation was so notable that it deserves it's own series. It will begin around the time that my essay about it on Whores of Yore publishes. Stay tuned for that!

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The state of Ohio does the stripper lease bullshit en masse. I learned this very recently. Unlike the Nebraska club, Ohio goes to extreme lengths to exploit, abuse and use naive dancers who don't know their labor rights. Generally, dancers in Ohio are are misclassified employees, worked like dogs and patrolled by management in ways that make me nauseous. I don't know if the water is poisoned in that particular state, but there is something malfunctioning with a lot of it's citizens that extends beyond strip clubs.

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As the Trump administration, libertarians, republicans and sell-out Democrats continue to disrupt the rights of workers that people fought and died for generations ago, the role of the term "lease agreement" in misclassification instances will probably not go away any time soon. Constant vigilance is necessary in the war on worker rights.

 

Support the #NYCStripperStrike!

Jezebel has recently published one of my favorite articles so far about the NYC stripper strike. It can be found here.

As a fair skinned woman, I am often oblivious to the many prejudices that dancers who don't look like me have to endure. Gizelle Marie is so brave and courageous, and I sincerely hope that the NYC stripper strike expands nationwide so that clubs don't discriminate in all of the ways that Gizelle Marie is bringing attention to!

If you know of a club that systematically bans dark skinned or black dancers from dancing, or prohibits black music from playing in the club, I suggest publicly supporting or promoting the stripper strike!

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Prostitution Accusations as a Control Tactic

Independent contractors and lease holders are allowed to leave a workplace whenever they wish, or to come and go as they please. Employees must follow a schedule, shift, hourly arrangement or otherwise be dominated by times set by the business that employs them. Employees often must notify their employer when they are leaving to take a lunch break, or must only have a certain amount of time when going out to eat during a work shift. Independent contractors or lease holders are their own bosses, and legally aren't required to work any certain hours. Strip clubs rarely respect these Economic Realities differences.

One common way that strip clubs prevent dancers from leaving work early is to accuse them of being prostitutes who are going to meet with customers outside of the club. There were vague rumors of this throughout my career that I didn't pay much attention to, but the first time a prostitution accusation really bothered me was at conciliation court in early 2016.

I was representing myself against King of Diamonds in Minnesota, which I won for myself. Their attorney and I were verbally sparring, when he began saying, "PROSTITUTION," while nudging his head my way, looking at the judge. If the judge was less progressive, perhaps he would have been prejudiced by this accusation and ruled in favor of King of Diamonds. Their lawyer knew about this stigma and prejudice; that's why he did that to me. It really bothered me that someone would accuse me of prostitution at King of Diamonds, not because I want to further stigmatize full service workers, but because I was so cold and assertive with customers, that to think I would do that at King of Diamonds is an absurd misrepresentation of who I am. I regularly had customers walk out of dances and complain because I wouldn't let them touch me. It was very dishonest and inaccurate for that King of Diamonds attorney to accuse me of doing "PROSTITUTION." That is part of the reason why winning that case was so wonderful.

In rural Minnesota, there is a club with fliers on the walls, forbidding dancers from leaving early, explicitly accusing them of going home with customers if they don't work their entire shifts. When I saw these fliers, it was interesting to me the way the club was using old fashion prostitute-shaming to aid them in violating the Economic Realities Test. Strip clubs are rife with hatred and shame for full service workers, so accusing dancers of this is really helpful in violating labor law. Strippers are notorious for ganging up on and accusing other strippers of doing full service work. It was fascinating to me that this club was leveraging that stigma. Strip clubs want to keep all of their workers on a shift the entire time, so that customers are happy with a variety of women to look at. But, strip clubs don't want to classify their employees correctly. This particular club did fire dancers for leaving early at times, including one dancer who had a baby and subsequently couldn't always stay a whole shift, due to heavy postpartum bleeding.

Recently during a jury trial for another Minnesota club, a very cruel, elderly, female former manager of mine successfully convinced the jury that I was a prostitute who was leaving early to meet with customers, and that she sometimes didn't let me leave early because she was worried about my safety. That wasn't true at all. I asked to leave early so I could surf the internet or go to sleep alone. She never cared about my safety at all. This manager would regularly threaten to fire or actually fire dancer employees for not doing what she ordered us to do. I audio recorded her not letting me leave early, so she had to come up with a way to get the jury against me. She couldn't deny the recording or her violation of Economic Realities. She succeeded at getting the jury to sympathize with her-- the jury thought I was a prostitute, and that my manager was completely justified in not letting me leave early. The jury didn't seem to care about misclassification at all. The scarlet letter of Prostitute had been branded on me by this vile, pitiful, miserable old woman, and respect for labor law was disregarded.

Most recently, I started working at an Ohio club with an owner and manager who didn't know about my history. On my second night working, I tried to leave early, because I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. The owner came up to me and began accusing me of things while looking inside my purse and pulling out a piece of paper with assigned dance prices on it. I had to draft a letter to them, informing them that I knew my rights. The results at work have been interesting so far, and I will cover them in a future post.

Late last year, I worked at a club in Nebraska that was terrified of getting sued again. I have never seen a workplace more lenient about letting dancers leave early. It was wonderful. I could go to sleep whenever I wanted, without getting accused of being a prostitute or threatened with termination. If I wanted to work for two hours, I could do that. If I wanted to work for ten hours, I could do that too. Their club operated just fine that way. Of course, I don't thank the owner of the club for that-- I thank the dancer who came before me with the courage to sue the fucker, and the woman attorney who served his ass on a platter in beautiful Eastern Nebraska.