Exotic dancers sue Jaguars Club, claiming violations of federal

Exotic dancers sue Jaguars Club, claiming violations of federal labor standards

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Two exotic dancers, seeking to represent a class of other dancers, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against four managers and the holding company that runs Jaguars Club claiming the company and managers unlawfully designated the dancers as "independent contractors," failed to pay the requisite federal minimum wage, and violated the dancers' overtime pay rights.

Court documents indicate plaintiffs Elizabeth "Kyoiee" Godwin and Krishna "Athena" Buoy claim there are at least 50 other employees affected by the business's practices, and seek class action to represent them.

According to the lawsuit, RCI Hospitality Holding, Inc -- the parent company -- classifies its employees as "independent contractors," but exerts "substantial control" over its dancers and how they work. The suit claims the club didn't pay its dancers compensation for the hours they worked, making the dancers rely on tips -- from which the club would take a daily fee for the opportunity to work, a fee if the dancers skip a rotation or start late on stage, a fee if the dancer left work without six hours on the clock, and a daily "tip" to the DJ, bartender, and the "house mom."

The filing indicates Jaguars also failed to withhold taxes and to issue its dancers W-2 forms, since it doesn't pay wages. According to the lawsuit, managers require their dancers to clock in and out using a fingerprint time clock system, but claims Jaguars never kept time sheets, payroll records, notices, or other employment information required by federal law. The dancers claim the only compensation they received directly from the club was in the form of "dance dollars," which were coupons the club gave to patrons when they didn't have cash and the business's ATM was out of service.

The dancers' suit claims Jaguars doesn't pay either the standard hourly minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) or the legal minimum wage for a customarily tipped employee ($2.13 an hour), nor the time-and-a-half mandated for hours beyond 40 a week. The suit claims RCI Hospitality Holdings isn't entitled to claim a "tip credit" under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

The dancers claim the business's lack of recordkeeping, lack of cash wages, and its tip-splitting policies prevent Jaguars from paying the tipped minimum wage and prevents it from ensuring the dancers' wages plus tip equal the minimum wages required each week.

The dancers are asking the North District of Texas federal court for all unpaid wages, as well as liquidated damages equal to the wages, attorneys fees, and cost of the action, plus $5,000 or the sum of actual damages.

Jaguars Club hasn't returned calls for a comment.

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