Sommers Schwartz has secured a $6.5 million settlement on behalf of approximately 30,000 current and former exotic dancers working at 64 nightclubs across the country operated by Deja Vu Consulting Inc.
The wage and hour class action lawsuit claimed the dancers were intentionally misclassified as independent contractors, rather than employees, so that Deja Vu could avoid paying them minimum wage, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as many state labor laws. Deja Vu also allegedly used the misclassification to charge the dancers “rent” for each night they worked, again in violation of the FLSA.
The terms of the agreement will create two settlement pools from which current and former exotic dancers will be compensated. Compensation amounts will depend on the club that employed the dancer as well as how long they worked for Deja Vu, and will include credits for rent and fees paid due to the misclassification.
The settlement also establishes new processes for ensuring Deja Vu’s dancers are classified and paid in compliance with the FLSA and other labor laws going forward. After an initial evaluation period, new dancers will meet with management and answer questions to assess their individual situations and determine whether it is more beneficial for them to be classified as employees or independent contractors. Dancers deemed employees will be entitled to minimum wage and their tips, with money withheld to cover the legal costs of their employment as well as other fees. Independent contractors will have more flexibility in choosing their hours and costumes.
Employers cannot classify workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them a minimum wage, or charge inappropriate fees and rents. If you believe your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor, please contact us. The lawyers in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group would be happy to discuss your situation.