Strippers sue Swinging Richards over wages

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More than two-dozen former and current male dancers are suing Swinging Richards, arguing in a lawsuit that the club violates federal law by not paying them minimum wage and charging them various fees to perform.

Two former dancers sued the popular gay strip bar in November, asking a judge to award them unpaid minimum wages. Some 25 other dancers at the club joined the lawsuit, one of several filed in recent months targeting adult clubs in metro Atlanta. A former go-go dancer also sued BJ Roosters.

A federal judge ordered both sides to seek mediation by May 30.

The Swinging Richards dancers say they are "integral" to the club's operation and that managers strictly control their actions, from having them strip naked before being hired to setting their schedule, requiring them to pay nightly house fees and undergoing breathalyzer tests at the end of their shifts. The lawsuit argues that the club is an enterprise that engages in commerce regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act and that dancers should be paid $7.25 per hour "'free and clear' of any deductions or 'kickbacks.'"

"As a result of these unlawful practices, Plaintiffs and the Collective suffered and continue to suffer wage loss and are therefore entitled to recover unpaid minimum wages for up to three years prior to the filing of their claims, liquidated damages or prejudgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and such other legal and equitable relief as the Court deems just and proper," attorney Nicholas Kaster says in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also asks that a judge classify it as a class action and force Swinging Richards to notify all dancers who have worked at the club for the last three years.

But the club fought back, asking Judge Thomas Thrash to dismiss the motion and arguing that it fails to show that the business falls under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

"There is no indication that these plaintiff-entertainers are 'engaged in commerce' or that the defendant-nightclub is so engaged," attorney Herbert Schlanger argues in the Jan. 8 motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

On Jan. 10, Thrash put the lawsuit on hold and ordered both sides to mediation sometime before May 30. He also conditionally granted the lawsuit class action status and ordered both side to agree by Feb. 7 on how to notify former dancers at the club of the claim.


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