A New York City judge has awarded strippers the right to a minimum wage for dancing on stage in minimum clothing.
Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ruled on Tuesday that Rick’s Cabaret misclassified strippers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them stable wages and other benefits available to restaurant employees and waitresses.
The case is the latest in a series of judicial rulings awarding protections to the nation’s nude dancers.
The Kansas Supreme Court issued a similar ruling in February giving strippers the right to benefits such as unemployment. Employees at strip chain Spearmint Rhino won a record-$13 million in November for being treated as contractors.
D.C. area strippers are pursuing similar benefits: Stephanie "Frenchie" Ashe is suing a Maryland club for treating her as a contractor.
Not every dancer is pleased with these developments, as the Washington Free Beacon reporter in December.
The independent contractor status gives strippers the ability to dance at different clubs throughout the week.
"I prefer getting a salary at this point in my career, but people should have the choice [to be a contractor]. […]You follow the money, certain clubs are in certain seasons. It’s important to move around," said Sarah, a veteran stripper at Washington, D.C.’s Camelot.
"If there wasn’t a competitive spirit, business could get bad, you could stop tanning, stop watching your weight, stop being nice […] that costs everybody money."
Progressive labor policies have failed in the exotic dance industry thus far.
Labor costs swelled at the Lusty Lady, the nation’s only unionized, dancer-owned strip club, leading to years of decline. It shut its doors last week.