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Some Maryland exotic dancers are employees, not contract workers

According to federal courts in Maryland, some exotic dancers in clubs across the state are considered employees of the clubs. That means club management is liable to the dancers for employment requirements such as minimum wage and certain working conditions. The judgment, which matches decisions made by courts in some other states, is not without protesters. Still other states have not found that exotic dancers fit the bill as employees, which has caused some contention among dancers and clubs.

Courts in Maryland used what is known as the economic realities test to determine that dancers were employees. The test considers factors about how the employer and dancers related along with other factors about the work. Some considerations included the degree of control the employer had over the work performed, including things such as scheduling, and the degree of skill required to perform the job. Duration of a work position and whether the work is an integral part of the an employer's business are also considerations.

When a dancer's situation meets the considerations in the test, that person is considered an employee. He or she becomes eligible for certain benefits and wage requirements, and some dancers in the state are bringing lawsuits against club employers who they say haven't paid minimum wage. The missclassification suits can be complex, however, because of the cash nature of the exotic dancing business. Information about wages received can be hard to prove and there is a high turnover rate for dancers, which lends to poor record keeping at clubs.

No matter what business a worker is in -- or how well the employer keeps records -- individuals who meet the definition of an employee are afforded certain protections under the law. Understanding those protections is the first step in determining whether you are experiencing discrimination or wage and hour issues.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "More Exotic Dancers' Misclassification Suits Dispute Clubs' Business Model, Lawyers Say" Anna Kwidzinski, Aug. 11, 2014

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