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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back pay

Some news from the Anchorage Daily News. If these workers win, will they have to furnish gloves to their customers?

Hat tip- Don Surber who I hope isn't the only one who gets my above joke.
Linked to- Jo's Cafe, Right Wing Nation,

"Brooke" knows how to wrap her legs around a pole. She knows how to peel evening gowns off her 5-foot, 10-inch body while swaying to pulsating beats. And, she can do acrobatic moves while straddling a fully clothed customer.

But this longtime stripper says she also knows a thing or two about the Alaska Wage and Hour Act.

Now "Brooke," whose real name is Shanna Thornton, is suing her former employers at the Anchorage strip clubs Fantasies on 5th Avenue and Crazy Horse.

She, along with two other dancers, say the club owners are not following state laws and that they are owed back pay related to minimum wage, overtime and fees they had to pay the clubs.

The dancers' lawyer says he wants to make it a class action lawsuit.

Both Fantasies on 5th Avenue and Crazy Horse club owners deny the allegations and say the dancers make more than enough money.

Thornton, 30, who has worked at strip clubs for 10 years in Arizona, California and Nevada, said the Anchorage clubs took advantage of her.

"I'm sorry, I'm not in this business for any other purpose than to make money. And, I'm not going to go dance and perform for McDonald's wages."

Thornton says she was forced to tip the bartenders, bouncers, house mothers and DJs from her earnings, even on slow nights. It is against the law to require workers to tip their colleagues, said Grey Mitchell, director of state's division of labor standards and safety.

One night, Thornton said, she walked away with $8 after an eight-hour shift at Fantasies on 5th Avenue. A two-week paycheck dated from June, shows Thornton worked 23 hours but after deductions earned $7.41 at the club.

Jennifer Prater, another dancer in the lawsuit, said the issue was about violating the law.

"This isn't about how much money I make in tips," she said. "This is about wage and hour laws. Just because of what we do, does not mean employers don't have to follow the law."

Prater, 33, says she worked six or seven nights a week some weeks at Crazy Horse but was never paid minimum wage for all her hours.

Prater, who insists on being called an "adult entertainer," not a dancer, and certainly not a stripper, says she's got scars on her knees from thrusting her body on the hard floors and wrapping herself around the pole.

"When I first did this, I went home with bloody feet from dancing in these shoes," she said. "I deserve to get paid for what I do."

Some of the murky laws around wage practices for strippers were clarified in a 1987 Alaska Supreme Court ruling, which sided with the dancers and defined them as employees of the clubs, not independent contractors.

Independent contractors control their own hours, working conditions and services in return for a flat fee or commission. Employees are subject to employers' rules but must be paid minimum wage, according to the law. Tips cannot replace minimum wage, even for workers such as restaurant servers, the law says.

The state's lead wage and hour investigator, Sandy Cannon, said she has received numerous calls from dancers, but only one generated a formal complaint against Crazy Horse in December.

She said the state acknowledges there has been abuse of wage practices with strippers in the past, but because few formal complaints have been filed, they have not investigated the businesses.

Both Thornton and Prater said the state makes it difficult to file the formal complaints.

"Red tape. Red tape. Red tape," Prater said.

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