The same attorneys who reached a $1.2 million class-action settlement with a Key West strip club that forced dancers to work for tips only have filed a similar lawsuit against another Duval Street club.
Monica Woodbury and Lea MacKenzie-Kerr accuse Teasers, owned by a company named after the club’’s address, 218 Duval St., of violating federal labor laws by refusing to pay wages, including overtime, to women it treated as employees.
“Teasers refused to compensate plaintiffs at all for the hours she and others like her worked,” the complaint reads. “These dancers’ only compensation was in the form of tips from club patrons — Teasers paid these dancers nothing.”
Strippers are often deemed independent contractors, but the lawsuit accuses Teasers of manipulating that practice so it doesn’t have to pay the dancers any wages.
“Even worse, they force those core employees to pay wages for other workers and overhead expenses of the club out of the employees’ own pockets.”
Strippers must pay a house fee in order to dance at all and then tip out the D.J., wait staff, security and managers, the lawsuit reads.
In a response filed by attorney Michael Halpern on April 26, Teasers denied wrongdoing.
The suit was filed April 1, the day after the owner of the Red Garter Saloon in Key West, former City Commissioner Mark Rossi, signed a deal to end another federal lawsuit brought by a group of strippers that included Woodbury and MacKenzie-Kerr and led by Christina Demaria-Dominguez.
Rossi admitted no wrongdoing as part of the deal and his attorney cited a number of defenses the Red Garter could have used at trial.
Attorneys Scott Atherton of West Palm Beach and Chad Even Levy of Fort Lauderdale, who sued Rossi last December, also filed a similar lawsuit against the owners of Bare Assets on April 5, totaling three lawsuits in all.
A fourth similar lawsuit, filed last November by Miami attorney Adam Kenner on behalf of lead plaintiff Michela Dixon, is pending against Rossi’s Red Garter, rounding out legal action against all three Key West strip clubs.
The proposed settlement — which awaits preliminary approval from the court — with the Red Garter sets up a fund of up to $1.2 million for about 122 dancers who worked there from Nov. 1, 2010, to Feb. 29, 2016. Payments range from $150 for dancers who worked one week to one month to up to $9,450 for those who worked 61 months or more during the time period.
All three lawsuits were filed at U.S. District Court in Key West.
Judge James Lawrence King is presiding over the Teasers case and Dixon’s suit against the Red Garter, while the Bare Assets suit and the one with the Red Garter’s $1.2 million settlement are assigned to Judge Jose Martinez.