The fourth factor in determining whether a worker is an employee, under the fair labor standards act, is described as:
"The nature and degree of control by the principal."
The "principal" was Shakers. We will explore some of the control situations below.
When I first started working at Shakers, before they knew who I was, I was told to participate in the stage rotation, with music selected by the DJ, rotation selected by the DJ and set lengths selected by the DJ. However, shortly after I started working there, when they discovered who I am, the DJ and manager began coming up to me and delivering paragraph-length monologues, explaining to me that stage rotation was not mandatory. I participated in the stage rotation until the last week or so of work. When I stopped participating, I encouraged others to stop participating as well. Prior to this, I asked around to find out if other dancers were receiving such a disclaimer about stage rotation, or if they were instructed to just do it no matter what. The latter was the case.
Prior to being sued, Shakers had dress code rules, in an attempt to control how the dancers looked. When I worked there, from the very beginning, I saw no such dress code. There were multiple dancers wearing footwear such as ballerina slippers, sock-like slippers, athletic shoes and boots. There was one dancer who sometimes dressed like a dinosaur in a full-body onesie. This is the type of activity that a self-employed person would engage in, and while a dinosaur walking around was probably not good for business, it was interesting to see the lack of rules unfold before me. The most disgusting outfit was the mentally ill woman who dressed like a baby and brought diapers to work, which will be covered in a future post specific to her. As nauseating as that was, I thought to myself, "Ok, this place REALLY does not want to get sued again."
I've been bullied a lot in the strip club world for not always shaving off all of my body hair. I've been fired from places for it. Shakers was a place run by bearded men in v-neck t-shirts, filled with dancers with more bush than I had ever seen in my life. In many ways I was able to exhale at Shakers like I had never experienced before-- not even in places like Boulder, Colorado or Portland, Oregon. There were definitely times when I thought, "This is how it's supposed to be. I could stay here forever."
Thoughts about staying weren't realistic though, because the backdrop to all of it were the ticking time bomb noises and the paranoia that Shakers exhibited about me being there at all.
Shakers had dedicated dance areas depending on whether or not it was individual songs being sold, or price of the "VIP" rooms. They took a modest cut of $5 for the individual songs sold, and a reasonable cut of the rooms sold. Near the end, I did a funny thing where instead of giving dances in their designated areas, I started doing them out on the main floor at the tables or wherever my customers were sitting. If I was really a self-employed person, that was my right to do that without being controlled. This upset Shakers, because they weren't getting cuts of those songs. Low-IQ dancers, who were eager to get me in trouble, would scurry over to management, urging them to take action. Because Shakers didn't want to get sued, they just pitifully watched me do it, knowing they could do nothing (directly) to stop it. Eventually their dancer friends began harassing me. Whenever I told management about the harassment, they reminded me that they could not control self-employed people. I was instructed to tell the police about my problems, by manager Dillon Maynard, who viciously smirked when suggesting it, knowing that I dislike police.
Prior to Shakers discovering my blog, I was bullied by DJ Steven Loe for reading in the club. I made a post about it without naming him. That post can be found in the search bar with the key words "reading in the club." After Shakers discovered who I am, their attitude toward my studies changed dramatically. I had to take entrance exams to get into the trades earlier this year, so I had to brush up on my fractions and algebra. Not only did I read prose books at Shakers, but I started bringing in math text books and doing thousands of problems during my down time. It REALLY pissed some people off. But, by the beginning of 2018, I was a wiz of all the trades tests.
From the beginning, Shakers was cool about coming into work whenever and leaving whenever, as they should be. I've covered this in past posts without naming them, such as the post "prostitution accusations as a control tactic." This leniency was a signal that they were trying their best not to get sued again by anyone.
Shakers is a fully nude club, but I didn't get fully nude on stage very often. Other dancers, particularly dumb ones, cowardly ones, or ones who had worked there prior to their losing the lawsuit-- the majority of the dancers-- always got fully nude on stage. They thought it was mandatory. Customers complained that I wouldn't get fully nude on stage, and would tattle on me to their loser friend, DJ Steven Loe. While Shakers really wanted to make me get fully nude on stage, that was another rule they avoided enforcing, to avoid a lawsuit. All the while, I would wonder what it was like to be a person so pathetic, he would go to a strip club as a customer and complain to a DJ that the woman on stage wasn't showing her genitals. The mindset of that was fascinating to me, absurdly hilarious and grotesque. Other dancers would get mad about me not getting nude too sometimes, like somehow I was slighting them personally. Clubs that aren't fully nude, but misclassify, will usually have rules regarding when the top is supposed to come off.
Shakers had dance prices listed on a piece of paper, but did nothing to enforce those dance prices. For example, there is a club in Minnesota I worked at prior to Shakers, which sent dancers home if they sold songs for more than $10. That place definitely misclassified and deserves to lose a lawsuit.
One of my favorite things that Shakers did was refuse to touch our dance money. A lot of clubs make dancers turn over their money, and won't give it to us until the end of the night. It is sickeningly degrading and humiliating to be infantilized in that way. Shakers wouldn't allow customers to hand over money to them at the counter prior to dances. They would instruct the dancers to receive the money from the customers, and then hand it to the club. This delicate practice should be a bare minimum, but often isn't.
Most of the rules described in the original judgement were removed by the time I got to Shakers. If you have a question about a specific rule, feel free to email me. There were so many differences in control between the Elizabeth Mays decision and when I worked there, and I have not listed all of them in this post. The rules they did keep were removed for me specifically, verbally described to me in detail, once Shakers realized who I am. Shakers wouldn't let me get away with it long-term of course, but it was fun while it lasted. Sometimes at Shakers, I was able to distill all of the joy I felt there so intensely that my skin burned.