Wage theft is a significant issue in the Metro Washington, D.C., area. “Wage theft” refers to employers failing to pay employees legal wages. This occurs when employers neglect to pay overtime properly, pay workers less than minimum wage or misclassify workers as exempt from certain wage rights, for example. Wage laws can be quite complicated as wages are governed by both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as local state wage payment laws.
A class action lawsuit was recently filed by three exotic dancers in West Virginia who claim that their employer illegally took some of their tips. The lawsuit accuses the employer of violating both the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act and the FLSA by requiring the dancers to pay it a portion of their tips.
The employer did not have any contract or written authorization signed by the dancers regarding these payments, according to the lawsuit.
Back in 2011, several similar lawsuits were filed in federal court, and four of those have reportedly been settled.
The lawsuit states that the club required dancers to pay it between $30 and $50 out of their tips for certain dances.
It is not clear how many other dancers may be a part of this class action.
Wage theft happens in a variety of industries, but it does plague some more than others. Unfortunately, wage theft often takes place in workplaces where workers may be less aware of their rights. Employees tend to have more rights than contractors, but it is important for people to know that their wages are governed to a certain degree by both federal and state laws, and legal recourse may be available when employees are cheated out of wages.
Source: The West Virginia Record, “Strippers file class action, say employer took their tips,” John O’Brien, March 18, 2013