A Dallas based adult entertainment business with a club right here in Lubbock is getting sued by some current and former dancers.
The dancers say they're hired as independent contractors rather than employees paid by the hour.
Documents from the federal lawsuit show 8 dancers suing Jaguars. According to the lawsuit they worked in Lubbock, Abilene, Odessa, Dallas, and Fort Worth. We've been unable to determine how many dancers worked at the Lubbock location or if they're still employed.
Texas Tech labor law professor Jarod Gonzalez explains the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.
"If they're a true employee they get the benefits and protections of the statute, if not and they are just an independent contractor then the law doesn't provide that protection," he said.
It's no secret that exotic dancers can make quite a bit of money in tips, but if they're not employees they don't make an hourly wage.
"For employees that typically make their wages on tips, there's a provision in Fair Standards and Labor Act that would allow companies, particularly restaurants, to pay a lower hourly wage. Typically $2.13 an hour," Gonzalez said.
According to the lawsuit, dancers at Jaguars say they don't get paid by the hour. They also say if they work over 40 hours a week they don't get paid overtime.
In a response to the complaint, lawyers for Jaguars argue that performers make far in excess of minimum wage.
Gonzales says independent contractors typically work their own hours and provide their own equipment for whatever job they're doing. He says employees follow a shift and use tools provided by the company.
"From the perspective of the individuals claiming employment status is they would want to argue that the company is telling us what times we have to work and basically telling us how to do this particular job that would be more likely for an argument for employee status," Gonzalez said.
In the lawsuit, the dancers say the clubs schedule them to work in shifts and apply a fine if they fail to show up. Performers say they also have to pay a house fee to work.
This year a federal judge ruled in favor of dancers in a similar lawsuit. The judge said the dancers should have been paid wages because their tips didn't cover enough to meet the minimum wage threshold.
That case was near Washington D.C.
We've also learned there are several other lawsuits similar to this one in other states.
We asked the manager of the Lubbock club how their operations work, but he referred us to his corporate office for comment. We haven't heard back from their office.
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