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Misclassified Workers: Exotic Dancers Win Employment Lawsuit

Employment1

According to reporting from the Daily Business Review, a South Florida jury has awarded nearly $900,000 in financial compensation to a group of exotic dancers who were misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees. As a result of the misclassification, these dancers missed out on overtime pay, minimum wage coverage, and other important employment benefits that were owed to them. Here, our West Palm Beach employment lawyers provide an overview of this case and focus on the important lesson that employers need to know.

Case Review: Espinoza v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc. 

The Background 

The dancers who brought this lawsuit (Espinoza v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc.) were employed at an adult entertainment club in North Miami Beach, FL from 2011 to 2014. They alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida labor laws. During their time working at the club, they were classified as independent contractors. They were considered to be self-employed by the company, and were given tax documents to that effect. However, their relationship with their employer raised serious questions about the validity of this classification. 

The Ruling 

Employers have a legal duty to properly classify their workers. Unfortunately, worker misclassification is a growing problem. When reviewing employee/independent contractor classification, the amount of ‘control’ the employer exercised over the worker is the key issue. In this case, the dancers were able to provide evidence indicating that they:

  • Were required to follow corporate-wide rules and guidelines;
  • Were forced to follow a specific, highly-regulated dancing schedule;
  • Were required to attend company meetings (without pay);
  • Were told exactly what clothing they could remove on stage; and
  • Were not allowed to adjust their performance fees.

Based on the evidence, the court determined that the club retained considerable control over the day-to-day employment activities of the dancers. The employer told them exactly how to do the job. Therefore, they were not accurately classified as independent contractors.

The Lesson

All Florida companies must make sure that their workforce is properly classified. If your business relies on the use of independent contractors, it is imperative that you avoid exercising excessive control over how they do their job. When determining how to classify a worker, companies should focus on the work product. If an employer has control only over the final result (the work product itself) it may be valid to classify the individual as an independent contractor. However, if an employer has control over how, when, and where work is accomplished, then the individual may be an employee for the purposes of federal and state.

Get Help From Our Florida Employment Lawyers Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach employment law attorneys have the skills and experience needed to handle claim involving worker classification. We represent both employers and employees. To get help with your case, please call our main office in West Palm Beach, FL at 561-291-8298 or our second office in Miami, FL at (305) 985-5281. We also offer appointments in Palm Beach Gardens.

Resources:

law.com/dailybusinessreview/2018/08/31/dancers-win-employment-case-against-miami-strip-club/

leagle.com/decision/infdco20180411674

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