Florida Keys

Eligible strippers sought for club’s $1.2 million settlement

A pair of ‘stripper heels’ wait next to a pole at a South Florida strip club. A Key West club has settled a lawsuit with strippers over wages.
A pair of ‘stripper heels’ wait next to a pole at a South Florida strip club. A Key West club has settled a lawsuit with strippers over wages.

Strippers who worked at a Duval Street club in Key West over the past five years are being asked to either file a claim or opt out of a $1.2 million settlement approved by a federal court to resolve a lawsuit over unpaid wages.

The deadline to claim any of the cash is Aug. 12.

Payments available to those who qualify under the March 31 settlement between lead plaintiff Christina DeMaria-Dominguez and Keys Productions, former Key West City Commissioner Mark Rossi’s company that owns the Red Garter Saloon strip club, range from $150 to nearly $9,450.

The court’s final order certified the class as “all exotic dancers who performed for at least one week at any time from Dec. 4, 2010, to Feb. 29, 2016,” and estimates the class will number about 122.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 4, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Key West, accused the Red Garter’s owners of violating labor laws by refusing to pay them but forcing them to adhere to rules as if they were employees and not independent contractors.

Strippers rely solely on tips and must pay house fees in order to take the stage, the lawsuit said, while often being forced to tip doormen, DJs and others at the club.

Rossi’s company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, which has now been advertised in the Miami Herald and online, including the hired fund administrators’ website www.redgartersettlement.com., where a copy of the settlement and claim forms are available.

Women who believe they are eligible for part of the payout must send in a claim form postmarked no later than Aug. 12, according to the court schedule. Those who qualify for the settlement may opt out if they have their own lawsuit pending or simply don’t want to be part of the court case by filling out a different form available on the same website.

But someone who does nothing will remain bound by the settlement with Rossi’s company and lose out on any financial compensation without the right to sue for wages during the same time period covered by the agreement.

The $1.2 million payout includes $295,900 for attorneys form the Atherton Law Group of West Palm Beach and Chad Evan Levy of Fort Lauderdale.

The lead named plaintiff, DeMaria-Dominguez, will receive $15,000 while $2,000 each will go to 10 additional women who added their names to the suit. Rossi also agreed to pay up to $35,000 for advertising costs, which include a 15-day newspaper legal notice and a 30-day online notice.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen