As many as 4,500 women who worked as strippers at the Rick's Cabaret on West 33rd Street have been given the green light to proceed with a class-action lawsuit against the club. The lawsuit alleges that Rick's, a publicly traded company comprised of 19 adult nightclubs, paid strippers less than minimum wages for taking off their clothes and even charged them for using the facilities. In a press release titled "XXX-Mas Comes Early for New York Strippers," attorney E. Michelle Drake slammed the club with brio:
Rick's has it backwards. Strippers are not supposed to have to pay to work. They may agree to strip off their clothes, but they have not agreed to be stripped of their rights. Fifty dollars per night, plus an additional amount for hourly wages, adds up to a lot of money very quickly, especially when that amount is doubled under federal law.
The plaintiffs also claim that the club charges patrons $24 to buy a "dance dollar" for use inside, but the strippers only see $18 of that. The $5 million lawsuit accuses Rick's of threatening strippers with termination if they didn't pay illegal "house fees" in order to work. The main thrust of the suit is that Rick's misclassified dancers as independent contractors, when they were in fact underpaid employees relying almost solely on tips.
A nearly identical misclassification lawsuit filed by a single entertainer against Rick's settled for $36,000. If you are a woman who used to dance erotically at Rick's and would like a piece of the action, Drake encourages you to contact him by calling (612) 256-3200.