On March 13, 2017, a federal court judge in Charlotte, North Carolina ruled that Club Onyx, owned by Top Shelf Entertainment and RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc., is not entitled to dismissal of sexual harassment claims brought by a former exotic dancer who was required to show her breasts to the club manager while she was not performing for customers.

Federal Judge Max Cogburn held that a manager who requests that an employee show her breasts constitutes a “text book” case of sexual harassment.  It is no matter that the employee’s job requires her to perform in a state of undress because the manager’s actions were unrelated to the dancer’s work duties and were for his personal gratification.  The Judge noted that in some situations, an exotic dancer’s claim of sexual harassment might be blurred.  For example, if the requests were made in conjunction with rehearsal or a job interview, it might not constitute sexual harassment to request that the dancer remove her shirt.

The exotic dance industry regularly takes advantage of the entertainers who work in these establishments.  Despite numerous court decisions to the contrary, exotic dancers are still routinely misclassified as independent contractors as opposed to employees.  Clubs do not pay exotic dancers any wages.  Instead, dancers’ compensation is limited to only the tips they receive from customers and dancers must turn over a portion of their tips to the clubs where they dance. 

Gibbons Leis, PLLC, P.C. represents North Carolina exotic dancers whose employment law rights have been violated.