A federal judge has awarded over $10 million to dancers at midtown strip club Rick's Cabaret over a lawsuit contending the joint paid strippers less than minimum wage.
The suit was originally filed in 2009, with strippers alleging they were underpaid by the company, which owns a number of adult entertainment establishments nationwide. The strippers argued that, in addition to being underpaid, the club would collect a portion of every dancer's "dance dollar," tip money that the club claims went to strippers directly. The suit also claimed workers had to hand over $60 to the “house” per shift.
Initially, Rick's argued that the two dancers heading the suit, Sabrina Hart and Reka Furedi, lacked the "moral character" to lead said suit. They also argued that the dancers' low wages were offset by the “performance fees" that customers paid for private dances, even though the club would retain a small portion of those fees. But a Manhattan federal judge ruled this week that the club owed the dancers $10.8 million in damages for minimum wage violations, and for improperly keeping portions of their tips, arguing that a "reasonable customer would have understood the performance fees which customers paid dancers as gratuities belonging to particular dancers, not as service charges belonging to the club."
Rick's Cabaret did not respond to our request for comment, but a spokesperson for parent company RCI Entertainment told the Post that the company plans to appeal the ruling. About 50 strippers are named in the suit, though about 1900 dancers worked at the club during the years the complaint covers.