A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that the upscale Penthouse Executive Club in New York City violates federal and state labor laws, according to Outten & Golden LLP and the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. The Plaintiff, a New York resident who worked as an entertainer at the club from July 2005 to January 2009, alleges widespread violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL).
According to the complaint, the club fails to pay entertainers the statutory minimum wage and proper overtime pay, charges them unlawful fees for each shift they work, and confiscates portions of the tips they earn. Attorneys Justin M. Swartz and Sonia R. Lin, of Outten & Golden LLP, and Gratienne (Sienna) Baskin, of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action and recover lost wages and other damages on behalf of current and former dancers who worked for the club at any time between February 11, 2004 and the present.
Justin M. Swartz stated, "The Penthouse Executive Club calls its dancers, the 'most splendid Entertainers from around the world.' If the club appreciates their hard work, it should follow the law and pay its entertainers properly. After all, they are the workers that provide the club's customers with the 'customer service,' 'environment of sophistication,' and 'pleasurable diversions' about which the Penthouse Executive Club boasts."
Sienna Baskin stated, "Entertainers at exotic dancing clubs in New York City are disenfranchised by societal stigma and by a wide disparity in bargaining power between workers and club owners. Clubs such as the Penthouse Executive Club are well positioned to take advantage of entertainers and deny them basic workplace rights. Entertainers deserve the same workplace protections guaranteed all workers. We believe our partnership with Outten & Golden and the aggrieved workers can help reform this industry."
Sonia R. Lin stated, "Despite previous government and civil legal action, the adult entertainment industry in New York City and elsewhere remains largely out of compliance with basic worker protection statutes. The Penthouse Executive Club, a leader in the industry, should set a better example."
The defendants are The Executive Club LLC, doing business as The Penthouse Executive Club, Robert Gans and Mark Yackow.
The case is "Leslie Liwanag, et al., v. The Executive Club LLC, et al.," in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Case No. 10 Civ. 1145.