Some 2,000 exotic dancers at a Midtown Manhattan strip club have been awarded $10.9 million dollars by a U.S. judge. But it’s far from a come-up, considering these women were seriously exploited.
The damages cover unpaid wages and withheld gratuities dancers employed at Rick’s Cabaret, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said. The action was brought on behalf of some 2,000 dancers employed at the club – owned by Peregrine Enterprises Inc, a unit of RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc – going back to 2005.
The award is short of the $18.8 million in damages the dancers sought, and the judge left the balance to be decided at a trial. The date will be set shortly, the court order said.
In a September 2013 ruling, Engelmayer sided with the plaintiffs, saying Rick’s Cabaret exercised so much control over the dancers that they were actually employees subject to the club’s rules and could not make independent decisions about their work.
The strippers did not receive salaries, only tips and fees for dances, usually $20, and payment for time spent with customers in semi-private rooms. As employees, the judge found they are entitled to mininum wage protections under federal law.
The news comes after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled topless dancers at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club on the Las Vegas strip were employees and also deserved wages.