TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A federal class action suit has been brought against the owner of two Western New York strip clubs alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The collective action claims that Mustang Sally's Spirits and Grill, Inc., the owner of two local strip clubs, Tiffany's Cabaret in Tonwanda and Cheektowaga, failed to pay lawful wages to hundreds of dancers during the last six years. A third location in South Carolina also has been implicated in the suit.
"As a result of these practices the exotic dancers at the defendant's clubs are getting significantly less than the legal wages they are owed," said Dan Getman, a partner at Getman Sweeney in New Paltz, which is representing at least one of the dancers who has filed a complaint.
Christy Brown, whose stage name is "Leah," alleges she worked overtime without pay and was paid less than minimum wage while being required to share her tips with mangers and bouncers, according to Getman.
He said those kinds of incongruities are common in the world of strip clubs, but also include pizza delivery drivers, bike messengers and real estate brokers.
"In this case the dancers are required to give a percentage of the tips to the bouncer and the managers," he said. "We deal with these kinds of issues around the country, really. There's a lot of places where the employees have to bear expenses that are really the employers expenses."
The case claims that Mustang Sally's Spirits and Grill, Inc. failed to for pay overtime, minimum wages and extra shifts exceeding 10 hours. It also cites a failure to reimburse the dancers, all of whom are female, for costume expenses, which Getman said are unlawful to deduct from the employees' wages.
"It violates their legal rights and it must be stopped," he said. "We intend to see that all dancers for this company are compensated in the full amount that the law requires and the clubs also pay the dancers the additional damages the law allows."
The case also broaches violations regarding state labor practices, which will be wrapped into the federal case.
Getman said the his firm is awaiting a reply from the corporation before moving forward in court. As a class action suit, he noted, his firm is still attempting to locate other dancers who may have been affected by the alleged violations during the last several years.
"They file a legal document where they either admit or deny the allegation or complaint," Getman said of the strip club owner. "After that, the court will render a decision."
The case will be brought to U.S. District Court before Judge William M. Skretny.