ATLANTIC BEACH A former dancer for Thee New Dollhouse strip club here has filed a class-action lawsuit against the business, alleging the clubs owner violates state and federal laws by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime and by forcing dancers to share tips they earn for lap dances and other entertainment services.
Alexis DiGidio filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of dancers facing similar circumstances nationwide. DiGidio performed at the club, formerly known as the Crazy Horse Saloon and Restaurant, between 2004 and 2011 and now is a member of the clubs wait staff, according to the lawsuit.
Michael J. Peter and Associates, the Florida-based operator of Thee New Dollhouse, has not filed a response to the lawsuit and Peter could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
DiGidio claims the strip clubs owner improperly classifies dancers as independent contractors, even though the U.S. Department of Labor and courts across the country have recognized that dancers are employees, not independent contractors, and, accordingly, are entitled to protection under various state and federal wage and hour laws.
The lawsuit claims that Thee New Dollhouse dancers are required to pay a fee of up to $100 per shift in order to perform at the club, where they earn money through tips rather than wages. The dancers also are required to share a minimum of $25 per shift from their tips to co-workers including the clubs disc jockey, house mom, valet attendant and floor host. Dancers also must pay the club $10 from the proceeds of every lap dance they perform and $50 from each 30-minute private dance, according to the lawsuit.
As a result of the mandatory house fees and required tip-outs, dancers sometimes receive little to no actual compensation despite hours of work, the lawsuit states.
Additionally, dancers are required to buy and launder their own G-strings and costumes, DiGidio claims.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the S.C. Payment of Wages Act. DiGidio is seeking triple damages in excess of $5 million for class members, court documents state. The damages include unpaid minimum wage and overtime for at least 100 dancers nationwide.
This is at least the second lawsuit filed against an area strip club over wages and the independent contractor designation. The owners of Tiffanys Cabaret in Horry County were sued last year by a former dancer who claimed she was forced to work without pay and share her tips with the owners and other employees. Club owners David Scrivani and Dominic Scrivani, who also own nightclubs in New York, settled the lawsuit this year by agreeing to pay a combined $37,500 to two of their clubs dancers.
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