PEABODY — Two former dancers at the Cabaret Lounge have filed suit against the Route 1 strip club, saying that its owner improperly classified them as independent contractors to avoid paying them wages, overtime and benefits.
The suit, filed last month in Salem Superior Court, is the latest in a series of class action suits brought against North Shore strip clubs over the past decade, all with similar allegations.
The two lead plaintiffs, Nayelis Baldino and Summer Beaulieu, say they performed a service — dancing in the nude — that is part of the club’s regular course of business.
And despite being called “independent,” the women were required to follow a series of job requirements, including being fully nude on stage, in private dances and in a “Champagne/VIP” room. They worked on a schedule set by the club and danced in the order that the club determined. When they appeared in clothing, that clothing was chosen by the club’s managers, the suit says. They were not allowed to come and go without permission, and were “fined” by the club if they were late or had to miss work.
The suit also alleges that the dancers, who received only tips as compensation, were required to pay a nightly “house fee” and share a portion of their tips with the club’s DJ.
The suit against Cabaret Enterprises Inc. and owner Feng Zhi Lang seeks damages for violations of state laws requiring minimum wage and overtime, the law banning tip sharing, and improperly classifying workers as independent contractors.
An attorney for Cabaret Enterprises and Lang could not be reached on Wednesday.
The attorney representing the two dancers, David Dishman, also represented dancers who filed suit against Revere’s Squire Lounge in 2012. That case resulted in a settlement, as have others, including a 2009 suit against The Golden Banana, after dancers there accused the club’s owner of improperly classifying them as independent contractors.
Those settlements came after several judges concluded that the dancers were not independent contractors but instead employees of businesses who rely on their work.
In one ruling in the Golden Banana case, in 2011, Judge Richard Welch noted that even the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony would see the dancers’ argument “as rather obvious: strippers dancing at a strip club are performing within the usual course of business of the club. Indeed, customers entering such an establishment would be sorely disappointed if such promised entertainment was not provided. As such, under Massachusetts law, the strippers, aka exotic dancers, are employees.”
That case was settled in 2013. The following year, dancers at Kittens Gentlemen’s Club in Salisbury also reached a settlement with the club — after Judge Timothy Feeley concluded that they were entitled to $4.7 million in unpaid wages and penalties.
Four dancers at Tens Show Club, also in Salisbury, received an undisclosed settlement in 2012 after suing on similar grounds.
Lang, of Braintree, purchased The Cabaret in 2013 from former longtime owner Francis X. Green. Lang had previously owned a Chinese restaurant, lawyer Jack Keilty told The Salem News that year.
Beaulieu and Baldino worked at The Cabaret between 2015 and 2017.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.