(WWJ) A class action lawsuit has been filed by exotic dancers and other workers claiming two Detroit gentleman’s clubs violated the Michigan minimum wage law by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
The Coliseum and The Penthouse Club are targeted by the suit that claims owner Alan Markovitz didn’t pay them a minimum wage; forced them to turn over tips; and required them to pay unlawful rents, fines and penalties for lateness and misconduct. Calls to the clubs by CBS Detroit were not immediately returned.READ MORE: Royal Oak Plans To Establish A New ‘Social District’
According to the complaint, Markovitz and others “made the decision to classify dancers and other workers as independent contractors to circumvent or evade their statutory obligations under the wage and hour laws and to pad their profits.” The alleged victims are identified only by the cities in which they live — Flint, Southfield and Roseville.
In 2014 Markovitz settled a similar class action lawsuit filed by dancers and other workers for violations of the FLSA while they worked at The Coliseum and Penthouse Club, the same adult nightclubs named in the recent suit.
The plaintiffs are represented by Royal Oak attorneys Megan Bonanni of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers and Jennifer McManus of Fagan McManus. The case has been assigned to Judge Linda V. Parker. According to the attorneys, Markovitz admitted to the shady business practices in an autobiography he published, where he admitted “he decided to forego paying employees a wage because it cut too much into his profit margin.”READ MORE: Michigan House Committee Approves Resolution To Subpoena Former Health Director Robert Gordon
“The allegations are always the same because the overwhelming majority of U.S. adult nightclubs use a pay and classification scheme which deprives dancers and other workers of their tips and actually makes them pay to work or perform. It’s been found to be illegal time and time again,” said Bonanni.
According to McManus, adult nightclubs generate a significant flow of cash and owners often perpetuate the myth that dancers are making a fortune.
“The business model utilized by most adult nightclubs is fundamentally exploitative. We can keep filing class actions and win back a portion of the wages stolen from workers. But, until the unlawful business practices used to avoid paying full wages are changed, the wage theft and filing of class action lawsuits against adult nightclubs will continue,” said McManus.MORE NEWS: Detroit Public Schools Pause In-Person Learning Until May Amid COVID-19 Cases Spike
The plaintiffs have requested a jury trial and will seek full back pay at minimum wage; refund of all tips, fines and rent paid to defendants; damages, interest and attorneys’ fees.