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Strippers Win $13 Million Settlement in Spearmint Rhino Wage Dispute

from www.nbcsandiego.com – A group of exotic dancers won a nearly $13 million settlement in a lawsuit stemming from their claim that the chain of strip clubs for which they worked denied them wages and benefits.

The 14 dancers named in the class action lawsuit claimed that three clubs — Spearmint Rhino, Rouge and Blue Zebra — had policies that violated state and federal laws by misclassifying them as independent contractors.

The dancers named in the lawsuit worked at clubs in California, Nevada, Florida, Texas, Idaho and Kentucky. They say their annual gross revenues exceeded $500,000, but they were forced to split tips with managers, doormen, floor walkers, DJ’s and other employees who don’t usually receive tips.”

They did so “to maximize (the club’s) revenues and profits by disregarding applicable wage and hour laws,” according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in 2009.

The plaintiffs also alleged that the clubs threatened retaliation against any stripper who attempted to assert her rights to be recognized as an employee, the lawsuit said.

Lawyers for the strip clubs also declined to comment.

The attorney for the women, Hart Robinovitch, declined to comment, citing a court order barring him from commenting on the case.

The California plaintiffs will get 50 percent of the settlement amount, minus $2.5 million in attorneys fees and court costs.

Some 43 percent of the settlement will go to dancers in Nevada and 7 percent will go to dancers in Kentucky, Idaho, Texas, Nevada and Florida.

The court order also states that the strip clubs will no longer treat dancers as independent contractors and won’t be charged stage fees for the privilege of performing at a club.

Spearmint Rhino, which has headquarters in Norco, bills itself as a chain of “upscale gentlemen’s clubs” where guests are treated to a “unique ambience,” “superior service” and “first class entertainment.”

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