The state Supreme Court has given a go-ahead for a class-action lawsuit by an Arizona lawyer who wants Las Vegas strippers classified as club employees and paid wages by the owners of clubs where they work.
Many of the estimated 10,000 strippers in Las Vegas pay a fee to dance at clubs and sign agreements classifying themselves as independent contractors. They get no pay or benefits and earn only tips.
A panel of high court justices ruled 3-0 on Thursday that lawyer Mick Rusing can bring a class-action lawsuit on behalf of strippers seeking to change that arrangement.
"This is going to force employers to stop living off the backs of these women," said Sean Brearcliffe, a lawyer at Rusing's firm. "Some of the clubs don't pay them anything and force them to pay as much as $50 to $100 per hour out of their tips. Nevada law does not let employers take tips earned by their employees."
Brearcliffe said that in coming months he plans to file a class-action lawsuit in Clark County District Court to force strip clubs to hire dancers as they do other employees.
If a class-action lawsuit succeeds, it will allow dancers to keep their tips and receive wages, Brearcliffe said. Clubs will have to raise revenue through higher entrance fees, drink prices and other means if his law firm persuades a judge to prohibit the independent contractor arrangement, he said.
Brearcliffe said strippers will be notified of the litigation and their right to participate if his law firm brings action against the clubs where they work. The law firm would represent the strippers on a contingency-fee basis.