ATLANTA (CN) - Pin Ups Nightclub in Atlanta must classify their strippers as employees rather than independent contractors, a federal judge ruled.
Current and former dancers working at the adult nightclub in Atlanta sought protection as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Tips are the only form of compensation the entertainers collect. Pin Ups considers their strippers to be independent contractors who are in control of how much they profit.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. concluded Tuesday, however, that "it is clear that the plaintiffs were 'employees' under the FLSA."
An employer can not avoid its duties to workers by classifying them independent contractors, according to the ruling.
Degree of control, skill requirements and "the extent to which the service is integral to the alleged employer's business" are among the factors that the court considered to determine employee status.
Pin Ups maintains a "significant amount of control" over the entertainers in the club, Thrash wrote. It regulates the dress code, requires certain behavior on stage, charges the strippers house fees and handles disputes in the club.
"The entertainer's economic status is inextricably linked to those conditions over which defendants have complete control," he wrote.
Although each stripper is individually skilled, Pin Ups does not offer formal training or require a high level of skill or experience in its workers, the court also found.
"Taking your clothes off on a nightclub stage and dancing provocatively are not the kinds of special skills that suggest independent contractor status," Thrash wrote.
The services that the entertainers provide are also essential to the nightclub's business, according to the ruling.
"Pin Ups' General Policies and Procedures issued to the entertainers states: 'Your job as an entertainer is the most important one in our organization,'" Thrash wrote.
Duration is the only factor that favors Pin Ups because the adult entertainers were not always regular or frequent workers at the club, according to the 13-page ruling.
"In light of the other factors, this alone cannot nudge the Plaintiffs out of the protective sphere of the FLSA," Thrash wrote.
"Pin Ups is an adult entertainment club and so it needs adult entertainers," he added. "Kelly Campbell, the general manager of Pin Ups, acknowledged this."
The court granted the plaintiffs partial summary judgment in declaring that adult entertainers fall under the employee classification protected by FLSA rather than independent contractors.