Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 | 11:38 a.m.
CARSON CITY — Strippers who danced at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club in Las Vegas were employees, not independent contractors, and entitled to be paid minimum wage, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled today.
A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of an estimated 6,500 dancers could result in the payment of millions of dollars in back wages, according to court documents.
The unanimous decision, authored by Justice Kristina Pickering, sends the case back to District Court to determine how much the dancers are owed. The lower court had issued a pre-trial summary judgment in favor of the club.
Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, billed as the “World’s Largest Strip Club,” maintained it merely provided a venue for the dancers — independent contractors — to perform. Some of the dancers earned up to $100,000 a year.
The court noted, however, that Sapphire dictated things such as the dancers’ appearance, their interaction with customers and work schedules, though they were allowed to work at other places. Dancers also paid fees to the club and the disc jockey.
Sapphire made investments in maintaining the club, advertising and covering other expenses, the court said. But the dancers were “far more closely akin to wage earners toiling for a living than to independent entrepreneurs seeking a return on their risky capital investments,” the court ruled.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2009 and then turned into a class-action suit.