“It could be a lot of money,” Federal class action lawsuit seeks back pay, overtime for Oklahoma exotic dancers

OKLAHOMA - Two metro strip clubs are at the center of a federal class action lawsuit.

Exotic dancers are suing Whispers Gentlemen’s club in Valley Brook and Midway Island.

Former Oklahoma City attorney Michael Billings is named as a defendant because he owns Midway Island.

He’s currently serving 14 years in federal prison for sex crimes.

The dancers are suing under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Federal courts have ruled, under that act, dancers at nightclubs are employees.

The dancers suing said, because their bosses classified them as independent contractors instead of employees, they’re out a lot of money.

“If you can control the environment of the work place and if your services are essential to the continuation of the workplace being in existence, you must be an employee. You can’t be an independent contractor,” said employment law expert Dustin Hopson.

Essentially, the dancers are saying their services are essential to keeping the clubs open.

The dancer named in the labor lawsuit said she was forced to share her tips from spectators with the managers, doormen and disc jockeys.

“It appears they were doing tip sharing with employees that wouldn’t otherwise be subject to tip sharing and, so, for that reason, the employer was taking what is their property, the tip money, and giving to others they didn’t have any right to give it to,” Hopson said.

The lawsuit alleges the club owners never paid the dancers a dime, claiming their sole source of income was “gratuities received from paying customers.”

Now, the dancers want unpaid hourly wages, overtime pay and damages.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial.

The plaintiffs’ attorney is seeking more clients for the class action suit, even taking an ad out in the paper.