Silk is a chain of strip clubs in the state of Wisconsin. This past Spring, I drove out to the town of Middleton, Wisconsin. Middleton is just outside of Madison, and it is the home of Silk Exotic Madison.
Silk's labor violations were overwhelmingly obvious and clear. Being a stripper there, it was very obvious that I was an employee being misclassified as an independent contractor. Almost everything on the Economic Realities test that classifies workers as employees is something that Silk did. I audio recorded everything that I possibly could.
When the manager, Nelson, was having me fill out the paperwork on my first day, he briefly mentioned that there was an arbitration agreement that I was signing, and that if I wanted out of the arbitration agreement, I could write to the corporate headquarters. The contact information to the corporate headquarters was included in the contract. The problem, of course, was that Nelson did not give me a copy of the contract. I asked for a copy multiple times for a couple of days, and each time, he brushed me off or said he was having problems with the printer.
Silk fired me by email, which I never experienced before. Their email was a reply to an email I sent to them, after googling corporate email addresses. They made up a completely false reason for firing me, which I can easily prove is false. I will save my recordings forever and offer them to any future plaintiffs who want to sue Silk.
After receiving my termination email, I promptly filed a charge with the NLRB and drove to Milwaukee for an affidavit.
Silk was VERY eager to get rid of me, any chance of seeing me again, and the NLRB investigating their club. Therefore, they made a monetary offer that was substantial enough to get us away from them as quickly as possible. The NLRB and I agreed to accept the offer. Silk tried to be sneaky by preventing me from telling anyone that I sued them or discussing my working conditions, but the NLRB wouldn't let them get away with that. I will forever cherish my ability to tell everyone how awesome it was to sue Silk. I will forever keep my audio recorded documentation of their broken labor laws, and I will forever encourage every dancer who has ever experienced worker misclassification at Silk to sue them. You will not be disappointed! If you need help finding out which organizations to report them to for which violations, or if you need a lawyer reference, please contact me! It would also be a good idea to bring a hidden recorder with you to work at all times. I hope Silk has to pay many more settlements in the future. Unfortunately, the one thing I can't talk about is the amount of money that I settled for. Below is the email that I sent to Silk after finding their corporate email addresses, followed by their response email, which contains my termination:
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Brandi Campbell. I was hired at Silk Madison on June 1st. On June 2nd, I came in to work my first shift. Before working, I had to sign a contract. I asked Nelson if I could have a copy of that contract so I could see what I was signing. He said he would get me one by the end of the night. At the end of the night, he said he would get me one the next time that we worked together. On June 3rd I asked Nelson for a copy of my contract. He said his ink cartridge ran out of ink and he would get me the contract another time. I know that at least two dancers were hired since I was hired, so presumably contracts were printed off for them to sign for the club. I, as well as other workers, should be provided with copies of what they are signing.
I do not agree with arbitration and I do not want to be legally bound to it. Nelson said there is a paragraph in the contract which provides the contact information regarding how I can opt out of arbitration. Unfortunately, despite my multiple requests for a copy of the contract, I still have not been given one.
I do not wish to wear heels at work. I will be wearing ballet flats from now on during work. Last night, Nelson told me it was mandatory to wear heels. I believe I, as well as other dancers, should be able to decide what kind of footwear to wear.
At the end of my shift last night, DJ “South Paw” approached me and asked for a tip. I informed him that it was a slow night and I couldn't tip. He demanded that I give him “just five bucks.” I told him no. He then began harassing me, telling me it was bad to do on only my second shift. I was sitting down and he was standing over me, speaking aggressively. I do not want DJ South Paw to bully me for tips in the future. I suggest paying your employees a living wage so they don't rely on the dancers for money. I believe some other dancers are bullied into paying your workers, and that is not right.
I am scheduled to come into work today, Sunday, but I am sick today and I am not coming in. I am also not interested in seeing South Paw tonight after last night. The thought gives me anxiety.
I expect to have a copy of my contract by my next shift, which is Wednesday. However, the main point of this letter, which I am emailing to Silk, is to notify you that I wish to opt of of arbitration and that I did not want to sign the arbitration agreement at all. I would have followed the instructions provided on the contract in order to opt out of arbitration, but again, despite my multiple requests, I have not received a contract.
Hopefully these problems will be cleared up and my Wednesday shift will be less stressful.
Hi Brandi –
After receiving your email, we took the time to investigate your allegations. We investigated your allegation of harassment by our D.J. and believe it to be unfounded. Others who were witness to the conversation between the two of you report that his end of the conversation was very amicable, nothing hostile, threatening or harassing about it. He was, however, chiding you for because you missed a set obligation: when it was your turn to perform onstage and your name was called, you did not appear. On Sunday you did not appear at all, and did not call the club to let Nelson know that you would not be coming in as scheduled. This absence was a second series of missed set obligations, which constitutes a material breach of the lease agreement. We are therefore terminating your lease, effective 24 hours from now.
As to your other point, dancers are routinely given a copy of any documents that they sign when they request them and are also permitted to take documents to consider them and to seek legal advice before signing. It is our understanding that you did not ask to take your documents to an advisor before you signed them, but you did ask for a copy after you signed them. June 2 was a busy night, and Nelson just did not get to it before you had left for which he apologizes. He did have trouble with the printer on June 3. We are sorry if this delay inconvenienced you. If you will send us your mailing address, we will have a copy of your lease sent to you immediately.
Silk Exotic Madison