A group of exotic dancers, who sued New York City’s Rick’s Cabaret for retaining a portion of gratuities and failing to pay minimum wages under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law, were awarded preliminary damages of $10,866,035.
Specifically, the court awarded unpaid minimum wages in the amount of $3,324,151; improperly retained gratuities in the amount of $3,577,032; and recoupment of fines and fees that dancers were required to pay to Rick’s Cabaret in the amount of $3,964,852. Moreover, it is likely that additional amounts will be awarded following a trial on other minimum wage claims, as well as liquidated damages reflecting 100% of the total damages awarded. Ultimately, Rick’s Cabaret’s liability could exceed $20 million.
Rick’s Cabaret had previously argued that neither the Fair Labor Standards Act nor the New York Labor Law applied to the dancers because they were not employees, but independent contractors. In earlier decisions, the court had ruled that the dancers had been misclassified, and were, in fact, employees, due to Rick’s Cabaret’s control over the ways that the dancers performed their jobs.