A company in Atlanta just found out the hard way that they’re required to actually pay their employees. Seventy-three exotic dancers from Club Onyx won a total of $1.55 million from their main employer, Galardi South Enterprises. Apparently the owner of Club Onyx compensated his strippers only by the generosity of the average strip club attendee. This led to unfair advantages for certain more talented strippers (and, I suspect, more dollar bills could fit in larger g-strings). The judge’s ruling states that strippers are not qualified as independent contractors, and therefore are due wages beyond any tips they receive. This follows a rising tide of wage dispute lawsuits, such as Mario Batali’s tip-stealing debacle or California’s lunch compensation conundrum.
This kind of thing makes me wonder how vigilant the government can be in checking people’s taxes. From my understanding, workers are entitled to minimum wage, with cash tips allowed so long as they are properly claimed on tax returns (which is a very wink-wink nudge-nudge endeavor in and of itself). I’m not sure how much money the exotic dancers were making in the first place, or how many of these strippers have actually claimed this money on their tax returns, or whether the IRS should even accept these assuredly sweat-laden bills, but there seems to be a decent amount of money going around unclaimed. The club owner’s reasoning was that the tips are so good that wages aren’t necessary. In this case, the extra $21k per year must be a pretty penny for the fine young women at Club Onyx, which I hope will be invested into a 401k or high-interest bank account. I’d hope employers everywhere would use cases like this one as an example to make sure they have their employees on the books. After all, having to pay a $1.55 million settlement would definitely leave you and your wallet feeling pretty naked.