An exotic dancer is suing Bourbon Street strip club Rick’s Cabaret on claims the business refused to pay wages and siphoned off tips to hundreds of its women performers.
Kelly Moncheski, a former dancer, filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Orleans on Monday on behalf of other former employees at Rick’s Cabaret. The club, operated by RCI Entertainment of Louisiana, is located at 315 Bourbon St. in the French Quarter.
The club’s owners couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.
The lawsuit claims that Rick’s Cabaret improperly classified dancers as independent contractors — rather than regular employees — to cheat them out of pay, overtime wages and tips.
More than 300 women have worked as dancers without being paid minimum wages, the lawsuit says.
The dancers should be classified as tipped workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and are therefore entitled to at least $2.13-per-hour and to pocket all of their tips, Moncheski’s lawyer, Alexandra Mora, wrote in the suit.
Instead, Rick’s Cabaret only paid the women in tips from customers for their semi-nude performances, the lawsuit claims, and dancers were forced to share tips with the owners.
When performing for customers in private rooms, the business charged the dancers “rent” for using the space, according to the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the company dictated to the dancers how long they should work, what to wear, and how to groom themselves — or face being fired — all indications that the dancers were employees, not independent contractors, the lawsuit says.
The decision to classify dancers as independent contractors “was designed to deny members of the plaintiff class their fundamental rights as employees to receive minimum wages, to retain tips given to them by customers, and was done solely to enhance the defendants’ profits,” the lawsuit says.