The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Sept. 13
If you ask us, Rick's Cabaret (RICK) CEO Eric Langan ought to walk a mile in one of his dancers' 4-inch stilettos before whining about paying them minimum wage.
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that exotic dancers at Rick's midtown Manhattan strip club should be paid a minimum wage, proclaiming that the club unfairly classified Rick's dancers as independent contractors as opposed to club employees. A group of Rick's finest sued a subsidiary of the company in a class action in 2009, saying they received "performance fees" of $20 a pop for lap dances instead of salaries, despite adhering to the strict guidelines set by the company.
The ruling follows a string of similar decisions regarding the rights of topless talent and opens the door for 1,900 current and former Rick's Cabaret dancers to seek back wages from the club. Rick's is appealing the decision and moving that the class be decertified. Shares of Rick's, which owns and operates over 40 jiggle joints and restaurants across the country, sank nearly 2% Wednesday."Unlike shoe-shine employees at an airport, topless dancers are the 'main attraction' at a topless nightclub and obviously very important to the business of the nightclub," wrote U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, adding that Rick's draconian rules forbade chewing gum, "bad attitudes" and body glitter. We heartily agree, your honor. And we can only imagine the difficulty you faced in visualizing this case, especially when you were forced to examine exhibits A through double D. Rick's legal team contended that the cash earned for lap dances counted as wages. Langan also argued that dancers who can stuff up to $1,000 dollars in their pockets, er, panties on a good night are too well compensated to deserve the minimum wage. Engelmayer, however, didn't buy Rick's wage argument and he actually cited Langan's own pretrial deposition statement that "the most important thing to the Rick's Cabaret brand is that it has entertainers" in his decision. "Without the girls, we're just selling overpriced beers at a sports bar with bad TVs," said Langan in his testimony. Nice going, Eric, way to sink your own case. Here's a tip for you: Pay the money and let it go. You've already changed your corporate labor practices so this type of occurrence won't happen again. And as you mentioned in your press release, this verdict affects a subsidiary of yours, not the parent company. The only thing you are doing by pushing this case any further is directing attention to yourself and not your company's asses, er, assets.
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