Friday, March 8, 2013
Dancers sue Baby Dolls for refusing to compensate them
The dancers say they were only paid in tips.
DALLAS In September, a former Baby Dolls dancer sued the topless club in Dallas federal court, claiming its owners were violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by refusing to pay minimum wage and overtime and by keeping most of her tips. Baby Dolls’ owners denied the allegations, claiming dancers are only “independent contractors” and not employees. But according to court records, the suit was settled and dismissed in December — though no one will say for how much.
“I can’t comment about whether they paid something,” says Houston personal-injury attorney Galvin Kennedy, who filed the suit on behalf of Esther Eliazo. “My hands are tied there.”
Which hasn’t stopped Kennedy from filing yet another lawsuit against Baby Dolls: On Thursday in Dallas federal court two longtime dancers, also repped by the attorney, sued the club for refusing to “compensate them at the applicable minimum wage and overtime rate.” The suit says Michelle Spada and Leslie Hess were only paid in tips — and that the club then “siphon[ed] away those tips to distribute to non-tip eligible employees.”
According to the suit, Spada worked at Baby Dolls’ Dallas location from April 1998 until November 2012, while Hess worked for the club in Dallas from January 1991 until January of this year.
Suits like the one below have become increasingly common in recent years, especially as dancers pocket a few extra dollar bills. In December, entertainers at the Spearmint Rhino in California settled their FLSA suit for $12.9 million; a year earlier, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of dancers who went by the monikers “Shiver,” “Wild Cherry,” “Chyna,” and “Cherokee.”
Alas, Kennedy has nothing to say about Thursday’s filing or September’s offering.
“I can’t comment on either one of those cases,” he says.
The suit below will have to speak for itself.
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