For a place where topless women gyrate on poles, D.C.’s Stadium Club has a pretty classy reputation. The Washington Post even declared it “a chic hot spot for young African American women”. But according to a new lawsuit, there may be a sleazier side to one of the District’s hottest strip clubs.
Dancer Talayna Clements stripped at Stadium in February and March 2012 before she was fired for what her lawsuit describes as “undesirable tattoos.” When she tried to get rehired in May, a manager at Stadium allegedly told her that she wouldn’t get her job back unless she performed unspecified sexual favors.
Clements still returned to Stadium without performing the sex acts, according to the lawsuit and her attorney, Gregg C. Greenberg, wouldn’t elaborate on the allegation.
Karen A. Todd, a lawyer for Stadium, responds via email that the club has a “zero tolerance policy” for such behavior from managers.”If such a matter had been brought to the owners’ attention, that manager would have been terminated immediately,” Todd writes.
Interestingly, Clements isn’t suing Stadium over the alleged sex extortion. Instead, she’s part of a growing trend of D.C. area strippers suing their clubs for violations of fair wage laws. “They pay them no cash wages, and then [the dancers] pay a ‘tip-in’ just to go to work,” says Greenberg, who also filed a wage lawsuit last year on behalf of dancers at Georgia Ave NW’s The House strip club.
At play in Clements’ lawsuit is whether she qualified as an employee or an independent contractor. While the club classified her as a contractor, her lawsuit claims that she was in reality in an employee, and thus required by law to be paid at least the hourly minimum wage.
Instead, because she had to pay “tip-in” money to the club and share tips with everyone from security to the club’s “House Mom,” Clements’ weekly pay came to a whopping negative $1,250 per week, according to her lawsuit. Dancers who miss work because of illness have it even worse. A stripper who provides a doctor’s note is fined $30, while one who doesn’t has to pay $60, according to Clements’ filing.
Greenberg thinks that more than 150 past and current Stadium strippers could be eligible to receive money under Clements’ collective action lawsuit. Stadium Club’s owners declined to comment on the suit, citing the fact that they haven’t been served yet.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.