MISCONCEPTION: I liked it better when we got to choose whether we were employees or Independent Contractors. Why can’t I choose?
FACT: Businesses, whether it’s the clubs themselves or IC dancers as their own business entity, don’t get to decide their labor classification. It’s a legal test applied by the courts that looks that the nature of the work done in relation to the business’s stated purpose (ie. is the worker performing a type of labor that is outside of the usual course of the hiring entity’s business? In the case of strippers at a strip club, the answer is no. Without strippers, there is no strip club). Your job can’t call you an Independent Contractor to avoid federal and state requirements– if the characteristics of your job resemble those of an employee, your employer must treat you as one. The Dynamex vs. the state of California decision instituted what’s called an “ABC test” which assumes the worker in question is an employee unless the employer can prove:
(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.*
Under this test, the vast majority of strippers at clubs can be considered employees.
MISCONCEPTION: I like things the way they are as an Independent Contractor. Why don’t we just unionize as ICs?
FACT: According to a blog post on the union Communication Workers of America’s website, “as an independent contractor, the terms and conditions of the work you perform are set out in a contract between you and the employer. Even though you are not considered an ‘employee’ under federal labor law, you may still join a union. However, you should keep in mind that that a unit of independent contractors is not subject to the same privileges and protections as a regular union bargaining unit. For example, an employer is not under the same obligation to bargain with a union regarding contract terms for an independent contractor that it is to bargain over issues affecting its regular employees. Also, an independent contractor who went on strike would not be protected from employer reprisals under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Not only are freelancers excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, meaning that they don’t have the support and encouragement of the government to organize, but when they do organize, they are vulnerable to anti-trust lawsuits because they’re legally small business operators,
(sources: https://cwa-union.org/about/rights-on-job/legal-toolkit/my-employer-says-i-am-independent-contractor-what-does-mean, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/30/disorganized-labor-can-in_n_511523.html)
MISCONCEPTION: I became a stripper because I can’t keep a regular schedule. If we become employees, we’re gonna have to adhere to their schedules and they’re gonna make them so bad that it won’t be worth being a dancer anymore, and I’ll have to give up all the freedom that made me want to pursue this line of work in the first place”
FACT: Clubs can have dancers as employees and still let them set their own schedules and work whenever they want. The clubs know this, but are trying to make our working conditions as employees so unfavorable and intolerable that they can convince us we’d be better off without the legal protections of employee status, and won’t make a fuss if the law gets overturned, so they can go back to exploitation without taxation and the obligation to comply with certain reporting and protections for workers.
(source: @libertinelaw on IG)
MISCONCEPTION: I need to keep my work as a stripper private and can’t have the names of my clubs showing up on background checks. If I’m an employee now, won’t my work history show up on a background check and potentially keep me from future jobs in fields like education and healthcare?
FACT: So a proper hard credit check CAN turn up former employers but it doesn’t always, but that’s the only kind of background check that will. Basically, most prospective employers and landlords only know the info you give them, because hardline credit checks cost money (~$25), and most don’t want to pay that so they don’t bother. Additionally, most clubs have discreet names for their corporate entities, so that BOB’S TITTY BAR isn’t showing up on people’s bank statements, so unless a club is especially indiscreet, that isn’t usually a big red flag.
Furthermore, if you’re applying for a gig that is running a background check on you, and you explain that you were paid in personal checks or under the table, that covers why a credit check wouldn’t turn up an employers and can explain gaps in your resume. But the short version is, short of a really intense Google search or a job that requires a high security clearance, background checks don’t turn up info that you don’t specifically give a prospective employer. And it’s relatively easy to manipulate the information that does come up. Lastly, you can ask someone if they’re running a hard or soft credit check on you, which is a valid thing to ask since every hard check lowers your credit, so they’ll most likely tell you, and then you have a way of knowing what kind of info will turn up exactly.
Lastly, a large corporate club chain has the following in their new hire packets for employees: “Before accepting employment with the Club, you should understand that
1) the Club video monitors the facility for security purposes;
2) video tapes certain activities for marketing, advertising, and other commercial purposes, including for use in certain broadcasted “reality shows” (which may then be posted and displayed on a variety of mediums, including over the internet on, for example, the Club’s website, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest); and
3) provides live streaming video of certain portions of the club over the internet for commercial purposes. [emphasis theirs]
IF YOU OBJECT TO BEING PHOTOGRAPHED, VIDEO RECORDED, OR VIDEO MONITORED WHILE IN CLUB OR HAVING YOUR IMAGE LIVE STREAMED OVER THE INTERNET OR APPEARING IN CLUB MARKETING, ADVERTISING, AND COMMERCIAL MATERIAL INCLUDING IN THOSE THAT MAY BE DISSEMINATED OVER THE INTERNET, DO NOT ACCEPT EMPLOYMENT WITH THIS CLUB.”
TL;DR– privacy and anonymity while stripping in 2019 is a fantasy. Basic worker protections are not. In the era of social media, smart phones, and mass surveillance, and the clubs’ explicit acknowledgement they’re gonna put you on their social media, there is no such thing as flying under the radar anymore.
MISCONCEPTION: Now that I’m a stripper, I can’t write off things like my hair, makeup, nails, and work clothes on my taxes, and I have to report all my tips.
FACT: if we unionize, we can negotiate with the clubs to get them to cover our beauty and costuming expenses. We all know a $25/month “shoe allowance” doesn’t cut it.