The strippers at Tits and Sass have gone on record as being, in general, in favor of independent contractor status for strippers, because we like working at will, not having to be on a rigid schedule, having the ability to travel and work when the whim strikes, not turn over most of our money to the club, and taking Schedule C deductions. There have been a lot of lawsuits filed by strippers seeking to get paid back wages from clubs, and what usually happens is they are determined to be employees (because, honestly, most clubs do treat dancers like employees, mandating shift times and other controls over work), they get paid a small settlement, and the strippers still working at the club or clubs named in the suit inevitably wind up paying more to the club than they did before.
However, the one time we’d actually WANT to see a court determine that a dancer had employee status, as, again, almost inevitably happens, the South Carolina Court of Appeals finds her to be an independent contractor. The reason she was seeking employee status? To collect worker’s compensation after she was SHOT IN THE CLUB in 2008. This is absolutely horrible.
LeAndra Lewis was hit by stray gunfire while dancing at the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 on June 23, 2008. She was 19 and living in Charlotte at the time.
She suffered serious injuries to her intestines, liver, pancreas, kidney, and uterus. Surgeons removed one kidney, and doctors informed her she may never be able to have children due to the injuries to her uterus.
According to her testimony, extensive scarring from the gunshot wound left her unemployable as an exotic dancer.
Lewis, who frequently danced at clubs in North and South Carolina, filed a claim for benefits with the workers’ compensation commission. Because the club had no insurance, the South Carolina Uninsured Employers’ Fund was forced to defend.
—Stripper shot while dancing in club denied Worker’s Compensation
What a nightmare. It’s possible that the Boom Boom Room is one of those clubs that lets dancers come and go as they please. The South and Southwest have many more clubs that observe true IC status than the Northeast and Midwest, it’s true. I’m not sure who, legally, besides the total shitbags who were firing guns in the strip club, should be liable. It’s terrible that the club didn’t have insurance for something like this. It’s far from surprising that the dancer didn’t. Most dancers don’t have health insurance, let alone their own form of disability/worker’s comp. This case is another sad reminder that, employee or independent contractor, you really can’t win.
Unlike you, I was a little (perhaps naively) a little surprised; so much of the law comes to the opposite conclusion that I kind of had go out and track down the decision. Essentially the way it seems to work there is that you have no real schedule in terms of where and when you show up, but you can’t leave without paying when you get there. (If that is inaccurate – certainly what the judges took away). Specifically much was made of the fact that one could (in theory) work in “10 different clubs in 10 days” as well as the fact that Ms. Lewis had apparently not worked at that club before, nor was she “invited” to work there that night (I’m not exactly sure what an invitation would consist of, actually. “Dear Ms. Lewis: Club Platinum requests the pleasure of your company….”) What was missing from the decision (although not from the dissent) was any reference to any of the myriad decisions on this exact topic that have already been made; I found that absence full out suspicious. While none of the decisions were from South Carolina, surely they should have some persuasive value?
Oh I did particularly like the way they framed her case as “creative” when in fact it kind of seems more like that court is kind of the outlier. Outlyer? Out-lyer? I don’t know. I think my point stands.
Definitely an outlier, and really, it is surprising to me, too–I’m just not surprised that the dancer gets the short end of the stick, ultimately. I hate this story.
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