Former Rachel’s exotic dancer claims she was never paid; lawyer says possibly ‘hundreds of girls’ affected
A former exotic dancer at Rachel’s World Class Gentlemen’s Club & Steakhouse is suing the Casselberry strip club, alleging she and other women who worked there were never paid wages.
Courtney Barlow, of Apopka, says she never received an hourly wage during the two-and-a-half years she worked at Rachel’s, which advertises itself as a place with beautiful women and delicious steaks. According to a lawsuit filed in Seminole Circuit Court, Barlow claims the only money she received was tips from the club’s patrons.
Barlow’s attorney, Carlos Leach, said at least 15 current and former Rachel’s dancers have contacted him alleging they also were never paid. He estimates possibly “hundreds of girls” have been affected.
The lawsuit was filed as a class action suit. However, it is up to the court to determine whether the suit meets the requirements set by Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The suit doesn’t specify damages sought.
The suit, filed in May, is against Florida Beverage Corp., which operates Rachel’s at 401 Semoran Blvd., as well as its title manager, Eugene Dupont.
Lawrence Walters, an attorney for Rachel’s, disputed Barlow’s accusations.
“Our client’s wage and employment practices are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this non-meritorious claim,” Walters said via email.
Rachel’s clubs on South Orange Avenue in Orlando and in Palm Beach are no longer affiliated with the Casselberry location, which has been in business for more than 30 years.
The clubs were originally owned by brothers Jim and Charlie Veigle, and over the years they fought the city to stay open and were the target of police raids that allegedly uncovered prostitution and drug deals, the Orlando Sentinel has previously reported.
Leach, in a letter sent to Rachel’s prior to the lawsuit’s filing, said Barlow is owed nearly $110,000.
In the suit, Barlow alleges she and other dancers were forced to pay a “house fee” each shift, ranging between $15 and sometimes $400; pay a house mom $25 to $40 per shift; and pay the club’s security and DJs.
Dancers could also be fined if they broke any of Rachel’s rules and were not paid overtime when they worked beyond 40 hours, the suit states.
“It’s a clever scheme, because the clubs don’t really pay workers. The workers pay the clubs,” Leach said.
The lawsuit claims Rachel’s violated Florida minimum wage laws and knowingly misclassified its dancers as independent contractors.
Leach said the practice of strip clubs classifying dancers as independent contractors has become “the industry standard” and several clubs have been sued over it.
In other cases, though, judges have ruled that in some instances exotic dancers are independent contractors.