Lawsuit claims stripper fired for being pregnant

An exotic dancer has filed a lawsuit claiming the DeKalb County strip club where she worked fired her for being pregnant.

The stripper, Amanda Berry, has also joined with a fellow dancer A’Cire Newby to sue Pin Ups in federal court, claiming it violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

No one from The Great American Dream Inc., the company that owns Pin Ups, could be reached Friday for comment.

The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month, claims that Pin Ups owners misclassified Newby and Berry as independent contractors rather than employees, paying them only gratuities from customers and not minimum wage or overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a week.

But the lawsuit claims the club management regulated all aspects of their work including hours, time and manner of dancing, attire, and how they interacted with customers.

It also says club managers fined dancers for arriving late, if they didn’t appear onstage when their names were called, or if they weren’t dressed and ready on the club floor within 30 minutes of arriving. And management demanded daily fees from $35 to $95, including “bar fees,” “DJ fees,” “breathalyzer test fees,” “leave early fees” and even “slow day fees,” the lawsuit claims.

And in February, the civil complaint claims, when a manger learned Berry was pregnant, the manager told a subordinate to “put (Berry) in the book since this is her last day to work.”

University of Georgia law professor Ronald Carlson said in an email, “These very interesting claims will turn on whether dancers Berry and Newby can convince a judge that they were ‘employees.’ Cutting in their favor is the fact that the club established parameters for their conduct, including fines for late arrival and regulation of attire. This suggests a lack of independent status on the dancer’s part.”

Pin Ups management, however may have strong arguments against the dancers, he said.

“One of those will be that the fact that no wages were ever paid,” Carlson said. “To the average citizen, if a company is not paying you a salary, you are not an employee.”

He pointed to a similar lawsuit filed in 2009 against Galardi South Enterprises, Inc., by dancers of the Atlanta adult club The Onyx.

In that case, which club owners settled last year with 73 past and current entertainers, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story ruled that the dancers were employees, while noting “Onyx does not pay any wages to the entertainers,” according to court documents.

The settlement awarded the Onyx dancers $1.55 million, or roughly $21,233 per dancer, according to court records.

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