Dancers sue NE Atlanta strip club alleging labor violations; ‘kick-backs’

Another Atlanta strip club is under legal fire from dancers claiming they were denied a minimum wage and overtime pay in violation of federal laws.

Tattletale Lounge and its owners were sued Monday in federal court by three exotic dancers who allege that the organization “required their employees to pay for the privilege of working,” according to the lawsuit.

Nicole Rawley, Amanda Farnsworth and Heather Whitlow are former Tattletale dancers who each have worked at least five years there, according to the suit.

The three are seeking to include the roughly 250 dancers who have worked for Tattletale in the past three years in a class action, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that Tattle Tail, Inc., the corporation that holds Tattletale Lounge, CEO and CFO Denis G. Kaufman, and secretary Carleen J. Barnes, required the dancers to pay “kick-backs” and violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

“Defendants have maintained a pattern and practice of not paying employees wages, not paying for overtime wages, failing to provide proper time for required lunch and rest breaks and otherwise failing to provide statutorily mandated wages and compensation,” according to the complaint. “These violations were, and are, so egregious that Defendants go so far as to require each and every similarly situated employee to pay out of pocket costs prior to receiving any compensation.”

Neither Kaufman nor Barnes could be reached Tuesday for comment.

Two adult night clubs were sued late last year for similar allegations.

DeKalb County strip club Pin Ups was sued in early October for alleged labor violations and accusations that a dancer was fired for being pregnant.

Later that month, Pleasers in southwest Atlanta was sued because of allegations that owners withheld wages and required cash payments from dancers.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that Pin Ups owed its survival to its dancers and deemed the entertainers to be employees.

The Tattletale complaint claims that dancers were classified as “independent contractors” but were held to a number of requirements akin to what employees would have: dancers have to attend staff meetings without pay, must work a set number of hours and shifts under threat of suspension or terminations, can only wear outfits and use stage names approved by management, and can only entertain management-approved customers in the designated V.I.P. rooms.

And dancers were required to pay a 50-cent “Breathalyzer test” before leaving the premises, 20 percent of their tips to the DJ, $20 per shift to the “house mom,” a $10 doorman fee, a “champagne fee” of $10 per glass of a set number of champagne or other specified alcoholic drink not sold during a shift, and a per-shift fee of between $30 and $50, or 10 percent of the dancer’s tips, the lawsuit claims.

Other various, and often arbitrary fees are regularly added to this total at the discretion of defendants and their managerial employees,” the lawsuit claims.

The owners of the Atlanta adult club The Onyx settled a 2009 lawsuit for $1.55 million, paying each of 73 then-current and former dancers roughly $21,233, according to court records.