Strip club operator accused of exploiting dancers

A Colorado company that owns over a dozen strip clubs around the country, including in Indianapolis, is facing a federal lawsuit over allegations that it exploited its dancers by requiring them to pay fees in order to work.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Denver, alleges that the clubs, including PT's Showclubs in Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Maine, charged the workers fees based on the time of day they worked, which were sometimes doubled for special events, and also took portions of their tips to pay bouncers and DJs.

The lawsuit also claims that dancers had to pay a fee to DJs for every dance they performed, were required to pay for valet parking and also had to pay $6 for bottles of water if they needed a drink.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Georgina Santich, who worked at PT's Showclub in Denver for nine years, but her lawyers are also seeking compensation for potentially hundreds of other women who work in the clubs owned by the Lakewood, Colorado company, VCG Holding Corp. It declined to comment.

Several other lawsuits making similar claims have been filed against strip clubs in recent years. Many allege that clubs wrongly categorized dancers as contract workers rather than employees entitled to at least earn minimum wage.

Last month, a former dancer at a Wisconsin strip club that bills itself as the largest adult entertainment center in the Midwest filed a federal lawsuit alleging that managers required dancers to share so much of their tips that they did not earn minimum wage or overtime.

In 2015, Rick's Cabaret in New York, which was accused of requiring dancers to return some of their tips, settled a class action lawsuit for $15 million.

One of Santich's lawyers, Mari Newman, said many strip clubs continue to operate by charging fees and extracting tips despite the flurry of lawsuits.

"My hope is that the tide is turning," said Newman.

She previously sued an unrelated, independently owned strip club in Grand Junction, Colorado, on behalf of dancers. That suit resulted in a settlement.

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