GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Kalamazoo strip clubs are being sued by a former worker, who claims she and others were denied minimum wage.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the owners and operators of Little Darlings and Deja Vu Showgirls, two linked clubs, by a woman who worked there for years as a dancer and server. Little Darlings is owned and operated by D V Kalamazoo, LLC, while Deja Vu Showgirls is owned and operated by Cinema Theatre of Kalamazoo, Inc., per the lawsuit. The two clubs are listed at the same address.
In the complaint, the woman claimed the owners denied her and other workers minimum wage by “wrongfully” classifying them as independent contractors. Instead, the clubs allegedly used a tip credit system “for which they did not qualify.”
The former worker said when she got tips from customers, she was forced to pay illegal kickbacks to the operators. She claimed the operators “exerted significant power and control over (her) during her shifts” as a dancer, allegedly requiring that she pay a certain amount in rent depending on when her shift started, demanding she pay them a fee for each dance she performed and fining her for not adhering to their nudity policy or rotation schedule.
The lawsuit accused the owners of mischaracterizing the former worker as an independent contractor “solely to avoid paying her as required under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and Michigan law.” The various fines and fees were illegal, according to the complaint. In addition, the owners allegedly failed to keep payroll records for their dancers, including records of wages, fees, fines and tips.
As a server, the woman claimed that when she did not make enough tips to make the minimum wage, the owners didn’t adjust her rate to reach minimum wage. Because of the alleged violations, the lawsuit claimed the clubs did not qualify for a tip credit but “knowingly and willfully” would not pay her lawfully.
“Defendants’ payment policies were not based on a good faith and reasonable belief that they complied with the FLSA,” the lawsuit reads.