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Another Strip Club Loses Fight Over 'Employees'

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

Are dancers at strip clubs employees or contractors? Kansas' highest court has ruled that exotic dangers at a certain strip club in Topeka were in fact employees and not independent contractors, ending a seven-year legal battle.

As a result, these strippers were entitled to certain employee benefits including unemployment benefits, reports The Kansas City Star.

So how do you know if your workers are properly classified as employees or contractors?

Regardless of what type of business you run -- a strip club, a restaurant, or a retail business -- your state's labor department typically utilizes a test similar to what the IRS uses in determining whether someone is an employee or independent contractor.

As the Kansas case shows, a key factor is the degree of control an employer has over a worker. In other words, the more controlling the employer is over the work, the more likely the worker should be called an employee.

In the Topeka strip club case, the court looked at the strippers' specific working conditions. The court cited rules set by the employer that governed what dancers could do in their routines, set the prices for certain types of dances, and even required dancers to clock in and out during their shifts as supporting an employment relationship, reports the Star.

The strip club countered that the strippers paid "rent" to use the space and entered into transactions directly with patrons. That's why the club's owner wanted to call them independent contractors.

But the Kansas Supreme Court was not swayed. The club's primary business involved strippers, and all of the club's advertisements featured strippers as well, the court found. Coupled with the club owner's degree of control over the dancers, they were in fact employees in this case, according to the court.

Keep in mind that the employee/contractor determination is extremely fact-specific. Just because the Kansas Supreme Court has held that the strippers in this case were employees, this does not mean that a stripper across the street is not an independent contractor.

If you have questions about employee classification, you should contact an employment attorney.

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