VCG Holdings Corp., the company behind the PT's chain of strip clubs, says it will fight back in a lawsuit filed by two exotic dancers who say clubs cheated them out of wages by classifying them as "independent contractors," not employees.
The plaintiffs -- two strippers from Missouri named Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer -- say in the class action suit that the clubs threatened retaliation on any of the about 300 dancers who wanted to change to full employees. The women also say their tips from table dances, lap dances and their other sexy services were unfairly taken from them -- first in a required tip split, then in an additional $1-per-song "tip-out" to managers, bartenders, bouncers and other employees.
Brad Shafer, the Shafer & Associates lawyer representing VCG Holdings, rejects the idea that the clubs' business model nefariously cheated the dancers out of their money. He says the strip clubs' contracts with entertainers were based on chair leases, where hairdressers rent a station at a hair salon but maintain independence over their work.
"This is a legal business relationship," Shafer tells Daily RFT. "This is not some type of sham transaction or sham structure."
Some of VCG Holdings' clubs in other states hire dancers as employees, but Shafer says if the strippers crunched the numbers, they'd realize they are better off financially staying independent contractors.
"There are a number of clubs that have had dancers as independent contractors and converted them to employees, and the dancers were so incensed that they went back to classifying them as independent contractors," Shafer says. "When they see what it is really like to be an employee, a true employee under all the laws applicable, the dancers understand it's far more advantageous to them, particularly financially, to operate as an independent contractor instead of as an employee."
See how being a stripping independent contractor is different than being a stripping employee on the next page.
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