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Los Angeles Law Blog

By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Other on Monday, April 26, 2021.
‘House Fees’ For Dancers: Must Read For Club Employees

We have reported a lot on, and represented successfully many clients who have suffered labor law violations relating to, “house fees” in the entertainment industry in the past. As time goes on, and especially recently, courts have favored the plaintiffs – the talent in gentleman’s clubs across the nation. This is no surprise as the industry is notorious for taking advantage of dancers and designing business relationships and working environments in such a way that the dancers are left with no choice but to let their labor rights be violated. 


From misclassifying dancers as independent contractors to unpaid wages and overtime, and more, club owners take advantage of the talent that their clubs depend on for revenue. One such violation is what’s called “house fees”. House fees, known as “stage fees”, are fees that dancers are forced to pay out, often from their tips (which they depend on), which are then distributed to other club employees. Given recent rulings in favor of dancers, most importantly regarding their classification as employees versus independent contractors, the tides have begun to turn. Regarding house fees, here’s what dancers, recognized as club employees, should know:


Clubs Simply CANNOT Charge House Fees Anymore


There is no need to dress this one up, no pun intended – club owners can no longer charge dancers house fees. It’s illegal. While house fees may or may not have ever been formally included in any documentation of the working relationship between clubs and dancers – it’s likely that fees were demanded verbally – it’s important for dancers to very carefully review their employment contracts before signing on. Why? Independent Contractor Agreements and Employment Agreements look and are VERY different. This presents club owners the opportunity to sneak in some language that economically disenfranchises dancers.


Dancers CANNOT Be Punished or Fired for Discussing Labor Rights 


The classification guidelines for employees, according to both the IRS and Department of Labor, are very clear about the following: dancers cannot be fired for discussing labor rights, or labor conditions at the club, with other dancers, nor can they be fired for trying to make changes at the club.


Of course, given the choice, club owners would do anything they could to prevent one dancer from informing another dancer about their rights, much less stopping a coalition of dancers from pursuing a labor violation lawsuit and seeking damages. 


Past House Fees Can Be Retrieved in Court


It’s not enough to only know about the latest on house fees, amongst other labor violations historically committed by clubs against dancers. The damages sought by dancers around the country in court are made up by a number of different factors. Always amongst the factors that determine the dollar amount in damages are house fees. Dancers should know that they have a right to be awarded what they have illegally paid in house fees in the past!