Kansas court: Strippers are employees not contractors

Strippers at a "gentlemen's club" may not get to decide how much to charge for a dance or refuse a customer's offer to buy them a drink, but they do have the right to unemployment benefits.

So says a new ruling from the Kansas Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel ruled Friday that Milano's Inc., operator of Topeka-based Club Orleans, could not define its dancers as "independent contractors" instead of employees under state law, because it controls their work rules and schedules when they go on stage.

"The house rules stated that entertainers could not refuse drinks from Club Orleans' customers and prohibited entertainers from "work(ing) the crowd" around the stage area as another entertainer performed," noted the court opinion written by Judge Christel E. Marquardt.

"Additionally, the house rules required an entertainer to impose an industry standard minimum tip for various dances, so an entertainer could not discount the rates she charged Club Orleans' customers," the judge wrote.

"If a customer tipped an entertainer less than the minimum amount, or failed to provide a promised tip, Club Orleans' management would direct a Milano's employee, i.e. a doorman, to discuss the issue with the customer and inform the customer that the behavior was unacceptable," the ruling said.

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