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SF strip club famous for its $5 buffet is being sued by its dancers

Exotic dancers of the Gold Club in San Francisco have filed a class action suit against its owners and operators alleging wage theft and other violations of California labor code. | Adobe Stock

After transitioning from independent contractors to employees, five exotic dancers are suing a San Francisco strip club—famous for its $5 lunch buffet—over alleged retaliation in their wages.

Gold Club dancers previously gained the right to be listed as employees rather than contractors, which was supposed to improve their wages and benefits. But now, they allege, their employers have used their new status against them, stiffing them with smaller paychecks. 

Employers say their costs have increased through the provision of benefits for the dancers at the Howard Street club.

A Google Streetview of the Gold Club at 650 Howard St. in San Francisco

The combination of the Gold Club’s $5 cover charge, all-you-can-eat lunch buffet (on hiatus since the pandemic) and live entertainment had all made it a popular destination for tech workers, according to Forbes

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor and civil rights attorney known for her class-action suits against prominent companies such as Starbucks and Uber—and who is now representing Twitter employees—is bringing the class action suit on behalf of the dancers, who are seeking to recover lost wages. Liss-Riordan was contacted for comment. 

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Historically, dancers have generally been classified as independent contractors. But a California Supreme Court ruling set new standards in which the dancers end up being considered employees who are entitled to benefits, according to reporting from The San Francisco Examiner

The reclassification of employees has brought increased expenses for the clubs, which dancers say management is using as an excuse to cut their pay “far beyond any amount that would be arguably justified to offset their increased costs,” according to the suit. 

While there are advantages to being an employee—like benefits and the opportunity to unionize—they only are available for full-time work and often do not apply to dancers.

The dancers have worked for clubs owned or operated by Déjà Vu Services, a national adult entertainment chain that has more than 20 clubs in California, including the Gold Club and the Penthouse Club in San Francisco. Déjà Vu Services and the Gold Club were contacted for comment.

The case was originally filed at San Diego County Court in 2019 and was transferred to San Francisco on Jan. 10. 

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