DETROIT — A federal judge has approved a $6.5 million settlement in a wage dispute involving 28,000 current or former exotic dancers at a chain of clubs operating in 18 states.
The class-action lawsuit accused Deja Vu-affiliated clubs of violating wage laws by treating nude or topless dancers as independent contractors who had to pay a fee to perform, instead of being treated as regular employees.
Some dancers will receive less than $200, depending on their length of service, under the settlement approved Monday by U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III in Detroit. The judge said dancers will have an opportunity to be classified as employees, and dancers who wish to work as contractors will share in a $4.5 million pool of credits included in the agreement to offset fees charged by clubs.
The judge said only a handful of dancers objected to the settlement.
The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by a dancer in Saginaw, Michigan, who said she was classified as a contractor and wasn't paid minimum wages as required under federal law. She said she was required to share tips with management and other employees, and pay dance fees. California-based Deja Vu Services argued its financial arrangements were legal.
The deal means "an improved screening system to accurately classify workers, an enhanced offer of employment and increased benefits and protections for employees and independent contractors alike," Murphy wrote in his ruling.
Without a settlement, the judge added, dancers "would face serious risks" in the litigation, including an unfavorable verdict or a smaller financial award.