by ACE Executive Director Angelina Spencer
As early as October 2018, adult clubs in California quietly converted most dancers to the “employee model” under a new State Supreme Court Ruling that promises to change the “gig economy” in a big way. Known as the “Dynamex” decision (Dynamex v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County), the ruling basically determines, under a new “ABC” test, that most CA workers are employees.
Many exotic dancers who’ve received checks aren’t happy and abruptly quit the California strip club scene, leaving for “greener neon” in areas such as Las Vegas or Reno, according to media outlets and club management.
Historically classified as “independent contractors” (or “non-employees”), the dancers were used to keeping higher tip percentages, setting their own hours, having control of costumes and being able to work at more than one club.
“Not everyone wants to be an employee. The other girls who sued clubs ruined it for us. I strip because it allows me to go to college part-time and still raise my kids.” Ava, California strip club entertainer
Club owners say the changes cost them plenty too in decreased business, lost dancers, increased costs, and the loss of freedom and rights for dancers who want to be considered self-employed.
California dancers, for the most part, now earn minimum wage plus a commission for dances, while clubs must carry workman’s comp, unemployment, sick leave, and cover payroll taxes. All of this is being hailed as a boon for the dancers but dancers say, “hold the music”!
Many dancers have actually lost or quit their jobs because the costs have drastically impacted earnings and club profits, doing more harm than good. For example, one dancer told the San Francisco Examiner that not one lady at her club received a check for two weeks over $300, despite the fact commissions on dance sales far exceed hourly wages. Yet new commission structures often set dancers back by hundreds of dollars per night, depleting both morale and incentive. And under the new model, dancers no longer have a choice about what customers they may choose to serve.
“Not everyone wants to be an employee,” Ava, a dancer from one California club told ACE National. “The other girls who sued clubs ruined it for us. I strip because it allows me to go to college part-time and still raise my kids.”
When reminded that Ava could now receive health care and other benefits she said, “That’s not true. My hours got pushed up to 26 a week, just enough to screw with my school schedule and not enough to afford childcare or get healthcare.”