DMI Blog

Amy Traub

Paying the Dancer

The Washington Post is running it as a man-bites-dog story: stripper discovers "Depression-era law"! Her workplace is "a den of prurient entertainment" in Washington D.C. and she "awakes each day to get undressed for work" yet -- imagine this -- exotic dancer Quansa Thompson actually cares about her rights on the job. Beyond the Post's cheap jokes and winking comments (her stage name is Love! She "sashays, gyrates and jiggles"!) lies a serious issue that impacts working people in a broad range of jobs in cities across America: according to Thompson's lawsuit, the club she worked at improperly classified her as an independent contractor, denying her minimum wage, overtime pay, workman's compensation and the right to organize a union even though she and other dancers were otherwise treated as employees.

The fact that Thompson earned a good income from patrons' tips doesn't excuse the club from violating her workplace rights and likely cheating the city out of taxes they owed as an employer. In short, it's a classic case of wage theft, exactly the type of violation that governments from Miami-Dade County to New York State are finally starting to crack down on. This month, in fact, DC Jobs with Justice and the Union de Trabajadores de Washington launched a Wage Theft campaign aimed at improving the city's process for dealing with wage and hour violations, ensuring that the type of abuses Quansa Thompson alleges cease to be standard business practice at workplaces throughout the city. The Washington Post does not appear to be covering the campaign.

Amy Traub: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 11:03 AM, Mar 15, 2010 in Labor
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