An exotic dancer has filed a class action suit against the club at which she works, alleging the club’s owners have improperly designated her and the club’s dozens of other dancers as “independent contractors,” denying them wages and overtime pay she alleges the dancers are due under federal labor law.
On Monday, May 11, Michelle Labriola brought her complaint in federal court in Chicago against Clinton Entertainment Management LLC, a company which operates The Pink Monkey adult entertainment club, 750 S. Clinton St., in Chicago’s South Loop.
She also names as defendants two “John Does,” who she said operate the club and make employment-related decisions there.
Labriola said she is bringing the complaint on her behalf, as well as on behalf of potentially more than 200 other dancers who may have worked at the club or are working at the club now.
Labriola is represented in the case by attorney John C. Ireland, of South Elgin.
In her complaint, Labriola said she worked as a dancer at The Pink Monkey for about two months. During that time, she alleged she would work 5-6 nights per week at the club, “averaging no less than 40 hours per week … often working overtime each week.”
Yet during that time, Labriola alleges the club and its owners never issued her a regular paycheck, as they “improperly classified her as an independent contractor.”
“As a result of defendant’s intentional misclassification … (Labriola) was paid no wages at all and she is owed full minimum and overtime wages, as well as reimbursement for all her unlawful ‘fees’ and/or ‘tip-outs,’” the complaint states.
Labriola alleges all of the dancers at The Pink Monkey were similarly classified as independent contractors, exempt from labor and wage laws she said would otherwise require dancers be paid minimum wages and overtime for their work.
Further, she said dancers are required to “split their tips with the club.” Should dancers violate club rules – which the complaint does not specify – Labriola alleges they could lose “some or all of the tip money earned over a night” or perhaps even lose opportunity to dance at the club.
“This is the very hallmark of the economic dependence and control of an employer-employee relationship,” the complaint states.
Labriola’s counsel argues in the complaint the alleged decision by Pink Monkey to classify the dancers as independent contractors stands opposed to case law, in which “exotic dancers working under conditions similar to those employed by (The Pink Monkey) were determined to be employees” under federal law, rather than independent contractors.
Labriola alleges The Pink Monkey was notified of the alleged violations, yet did not alter its business practices.
“Defendant knew that dancers such as (Labriola) are employees that should be paid under the law, and has simply chosen not to pay them,” the complaint states.
Labriola has asked the judge certify a class for the case which would include all dancers who worked at The Pink Monkey over the last three years, which she estimated would number around 200 people, but could number as many as 400.
She asked the judge to award damages which would at least include all allegedly unpaid back wages and unpaid overtime, as well as “wages equal to the amount they were required to give (the club) and other employees as ‘dance fees’ and ‘DJ fees’ and ‘house’ and/or ‘floor’ fees” and tips.
She also asked the judge to order the club to pay “civil penalties” associated with the matter, as well as attorney fees and costs.