In downtown Minneapolis's warehouse district there sits an alcohol-free strip club with a crowded fish tank in the lobby, where dancers watch the sad swimmers compete and eat one another all the live long shift. Rib cages of deceased fish decorate the bottom of the tank, while finned cannibals pucker at the flesh. Water leaks from the ceiling of the club when it rains, and drug deals are abound. A man was once stabbed outside of the club during one of my work shifts at Choice Gentlemen's Club, and we were locked inside while police processed the scene.
I worked at Choice Gentlemen's Club between the months of September 2015 to April 2016. In that time, the strip club cheated me out of a little bit over $13,000 in unpaid minimum wage, overtime compensation, cuts of my dance money and illegal house fees. I took Choice to small claims court on Tuesday, September 20th. The pendulum of justice sometimes swings in favor the oppressed, and sometimes in favor of the oppressor. This was the first suit that I have ever lost.
During the time before the judge enters the courtroom and the parties are to exchange documents or information about what they plan to present, the owner of Choice chose to berate me on my dress that he thought inappropriate for court, the way that I smelled and his delusions about whether or not I pay my taxes. He accused me of being a sex trafficking victim with a pimp behind all of my lawsuits, and then he attempted to touch my knee. This was particularly triggering, as he has touched my legs in the past and caused me to report him to the EEOC for sexual harassment. When he did this on our court date, I ran back into the court room to notify the clerk that he was not showing me any of the documents that he planned to present. She, an older woman, told me I needed to behave like an adult, go back out there and exchange the documents. She ignored what I described to her, so I just went back out there. Thomas Hoskamer, the proprietor of Choice, continued to berate me and show me a few of the documents. I returned to the court room to notify the clerk that he was not fully cooperating. She told me to behave like an adult and if I can't do that, then the referee will deal with it. I said, “Fine,” and sat on the benches. The clerk proceeded to stare me down for the overwhelming majority of time that I sat on the bench. She wrote something down on a piece of paper that she later showed to the referee before he called my name to be sworn in and testify.
When I announced what I do for a living, the referee began snickering at me. I heard gasps from the audience of other small claimants, and the clerk's glare burned through me. I cried during my testimony as I described my allegiance to past labor struggles. I was shaking in fear, because the referee, Perry Smith, spent most of my testimony smirking and chuckling at me. He rolled his eyes and flippantly said I could play “some” of my recordings when I told him that I recorded my managers breaking labor laws. He told me to stop talking and would not let me finish my testimony. He would not look at the examples of past strip club lawsuits, nor would he examine any of the many pieces of evidence that I brought in. When it was Tom Hoskamer's turn to testify, referee Perry Smith bro'ed it up with him, as well as manager Edward “Eddie” Lane. Tom's defense centered around his theory that I am a sex trafficking victim, that somebody put me up to these lawsuits, and that he was sued in the past for sexual harassment by two pregnant trafficking victims on drugs. He suggested that I was in a similar situation. He gave referee Perry Smith his Eagle Scout promise. Perry Smith gave me two minutes for a rebuttal, wherein I tried to explain what kind of a person I am.
I lost the case. I didn't lose because I didn't have enough evidence; misogynist bigot Perry Smith just didn't examine my evidence. I didn't lose because I didn't have audio recorded evidence; misogynist bigot Perry Smith didn't allow me enough time to set up my equipment. I didn't lose because I didn't testify truthfully; misogynist bigot Perry Smith mocked me so much that I began crying during my testimony. I reported misogynist bigot Perry Smith's conduct to the authorities, in hopes that he will no longer be allowed to referee small claims cases. I reported the misconduct of his clerk as well, because there is no reason why a bitter old woman should have spent that much time glaring at me.
It is my hope that the district court judge will examine my evidence, recordings and testimony through an unbiased lens. There is no logical reason why I could lose this case in district court.