Strippers Score Hot Legal Victory Over Terrible Rhino

Here at Wonkette, we take our goal of bringing you Very Serious Legal News very seriously. Whether it is politicians getting busted for the sexytime, politicians getting busted for the sexytime, or politicians getting busted for the sexytime, we here at Wonkette are ON it.

Sometimes sexytime isn’t so sexy, though! Sometimes ladies who deliver the sexytime to the lonely menz at the improbably named Spearmint Rhino chain of strip clubs get completely screwed over, and not in the fun way:

Two women who danced at the Spearmint Rhino in Oxnard launched the suit: Christeen Rivera and Tracy Dawn Trauth. They claimed they were wrongly treated as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to benefits. They sought back wages, tips, attorney fees and damages.

According to the suit, the women each earned an average of $500,000 a year in tips for lap and table dances. But the dancers alleged most of the money went to the club to cover “rent,” the disc jockey, stage fees, overhead costs and even penalties if they didn’t get enough men to purchase drinks during a shift.

$500,000 is a lot of monies! Though, given the strippers’ likely clientele (presumably politicians looking for sexytime!) no amount of money is enough monies. According to the settlement, there was pretty much no way in which the Spearmint Rhino didn’t straight-up rob everyone that worked for them:

It’s definitely a big win for the 14 dancers named in the suit, but also for dancers in California. Judge Phillips ruled that within 30 days Spearmint Rhino must stop charging dancers what are known as “stage fees” for the right to work. Phillips also ruled that the chain is required to grant all dancers in their clubs employee status within six months, ending the illegal practice of classifying dancers as independent contractors while also placing workplace demands on them that far exceed that legal status. By managing dancers like employees but putting them on the books as independent contractors, club owners get out of paying dancers the benefits they’re legally entitled to, which could include worker’s compensation, unemployment, and health insurance if they qualify.

As Spearmint Rhino is apparently a ginormous chain of strip clubs, a veritable Wal-Mart of legal sexytime (your faithful Wonkette editrix informs us that they exist in copious amounts in Los Angeles), the settlement is $13 million and covers dancers in California, Kentucky, Idaho, Florida and Nevada. Woo for multi-state legal sexytime labor victories!!

The real story here, though, let’s be honest, is the deeply unsexy name, Spearmint Rhino. Is that image – some improbably-colored (or flavored? ewww) large tough-hided animal? If so, you’re in luck in California, Kentucky, Idaho, Florida, and Nevada! Those of us in other states will have to make do with our pedestrian strip club names that simply tell us how hot the ladies will be, like Dream Girls.


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    1. Dudleydidwrong

      The judge says, "Drinks all around! We're getting married!"
      The bartender says, "That goddamn Obama. They said that if he won we'd be screwing animals!"
      The judge responds, "My good man, who said anything about screwing animals. This lady and I are getting married."
      The bartender says, "Then what's with the rhinoceros?"
      The rhinoceros says (in a deep voice), "I'm the maid of honor."

    1. greenloner

      Can you doubt it? The forbidding cognitive dissonance, the mind-numbing (sex organs-offputing) lack of charm or poetry, the inappositeness of such a name for such places, all are positively blatant clues that either Romneys or Romney-like persons have their fell clutches on the wallets and genitals of the workers and the customers.

  1. not that Dewey

    Oh, good. That means that the Spearmint Rhinos in New Mexico will still be staffed by underpaid, exploited strippers.


      1. not that Dewey

        Did it? I guess I'm just out of touch.

        I only make it to ABQ about once a month, and "checking to see which strip clubs are still open" is low on my list of things to do.

    1. Antispandex

      Isn't everyone? Really? Except, well, I had this neighbor. She was fine looking without big'uns. Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl…

    1. NellCote71

      Sounds like the snarky "that's the name of my next band" at the end of a long string of replies from drunk/stoned Wonkateers.

  2. LibertyLover

    Frank Parlato thinks these womenz should quit thinking of themselves as victims and make him a sandwich.

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      Friend of mine named his daughters Krystal and Amber. I never said anything, but thought, "Dude, self-fulfilling prophecy if they become dancers." Fortunately, despite their being raised in South Texas Hillbilly Valhalla, they both graduated from Hi-Dollah College and are both on their ways to successful careers as physicians. Who'd a thunk it?

        1. Steverino247

          An undergraduate student I once knew was strongly suspected of such employment. The graduate students (including me) strongly resisted the temptation to find out for sure because we thought she would drop out of school and we'd never see her walking around campus. (Yes, just watching her walk around campus was an experience…)

        2. BaldarTFlagass

          Actually, he started what is now one of the biggest fence companes in South Texas when we got out of high school and he's a fucking millionaire now. So I doubt it. And I can't think of them in those terms, they're my bud's little girls!!

      1. Lascauxcaveman

        Oh yeah? My country's president's name is Barack Hussein, and my country isn't even a muslin one! (Yet.)

    2. NellCote71

      Didn't even need to combine the name of their first pet and the street they grew up on. Unfortunately, my name stripper name under those rules is Choppy Eighth.

  3. skoalrebel

    Yeah, but the club was Republican in name only. [spit!] Basically a bunch of fuckin' libtards and queers. I mean, fuck it, when you're marketing yourself as a gum-flavored version of an odd-toed ungulate, well, that's just fuckin' gay. [spit] No true constitutional conservatives giving lapdances there, man.

  4. Botlrokit

    Fuckin' Government. Not only must I make 'em employees in six months, I hafta cover their GOD DAMN BIRTH CONTROL.

    1. mayor_quimby

      I think strip clubs put it in the dancers' drinks, at least the good ones. Pregnant strippers are bad for business. Plus it takes at least 3 months to get back in stripper shape, depending on how competitive your local market is, so you're without Amber-Lynn for a whole year. Bad business

  5. actor212

    Two women who danced at the Spearmint Rhino in Oxnard launched the suit: Christeen Rivera and Tracy Dawn Trauth.

    I call bullshit! Strippers have names like Candy Striper or Pola Dansa!

          1. widestanceromance

            With a pink hotel and a swingin' hot spot (and how did you know I was thinking of that song?).

        1. Lascauxcaveman


          (I'd deleted my comment – usual down thread duplication problem – and was trying to think of something else to say, when you interrupted.)

      1. greenloner

        Very much to the point, your comment!

        [Posted this before I saw the exchange that followed. Still, I did see your point!]

  6. BaldarTFlagass

    I wish I had half a mil or so to invest in a titty bar, with a slightly more targeted audience than "has a penis." Given the upsurge in divorces and the number of hot divorcees one sees these days, I would only hire well-maintained 35-50-year-olds. Baldar's MILF Bar.

  7. Come here a minute

    Now that I know about these unfair labor practices, I'll give all my business to Peppermint Hippo.

    1. Jus_Wonderin

      That is best. I hear the owner was complaining about the 14 cents per lap dance he would lose to give these sweet young ladies benefits.

  8. Ruhe

    I am shocked, shocked!…to hear that a company that operates strip clubs has adopted business practices that exploit women.

    Now…is irony finally and truly dead in America or what?

    1. LesBontemps

      Hell, the Tea Party put the last nail in irony's coffin three years ago; satire remains on life support.

  9. actor212

    Phillips also ruled that the chain is required to grant all dancers in their clubs employee status within six months, ending the illegal practice of classifying dancers as independent contractors while also placing workplace demands on them that far exceed that legal status.

    It's bad enough Linda McMahon lost her election, now she's going to lose her wrestlers.

  10. taylormattd

    I prefered the Deja Vu myself, back when I was pretending to be straight.

    How can you go wrong with "99 beautiful girls and three ugly ones" as your slogan?

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      My cousin quips they named that place 'Deja Vu' because every time you go to a strip club, it's exactly the same.

      1. PhilippePetain

        Deja Vu is everywhere.

        Seattle does have the Lusty Lady, also of SF; unionized girls, seedy as hell.

        Sorry. I know these things from my days as a late-teen exploring the underbelly of said cities.

        1. Limeylizzie

          and I know it from doing research for a play I was in called “Dressing” about the lives of strippers!

  11. Lot_49

    Phillips also ruled that the chain is required to grant all dancers in their clubs employee status within six months

    The strip club gets six months to have the strippers fill out W4s? Sweet Jebus that's ridiculous. It takes five minutes.

    Of course, being strippers and employees with (you'd hope) health insurance, they'll all want free birth control and/or free Obamacare abortions when they get legitimately raped. So I guess the Spearment Rhino "gentlemans' club" is yet another victim of creeping Sharia Law/socialized medicine.

  12. Tundra Grifter

    $500,000 a year? Let's say each young lady works 50 weeks a year – just to keep the math simple. That's $10,000 a week. Five nights a week? $2,000 per shift.

    Work 10 hours per night? OK – $200 an hour. Serious tips, indeed…

    1. Steverino247

      That is some serious money! Gentlemen's club, indeed. If Republican women could master the hand/blow job, think how many other businesses would collapse.

    2. PhilippePetain

      I'm wondering why they wouldn't pool resources, by their own joint, and just become the management. It would probably be a more fun, less-rapey place, too.

      1. HateMachine

        Well, now that they're being allowed to keep their money, they probably will. Garnishing every tip ever wasn't just for profit or spite, after all.

  13. SorosBot

    Wait, you're saying that strippers are actual human beings, with legal rights, and not just pieces of meat and eye candy?!?

  14. SayItWithWookies

    That's a hell of a business plan, making the performers pay for the stage and the DJ and holding them responsible for the drunkenness of the clientele. It certainly goes a long way to explaining the RNC's junkets to lesbian bondage shows. Well — that and the lesbian bondage.

  15. BaldarTFlagass

    A new bar opened on the northside of San Antonio called The Angry Elephant, and from what I can tell (website is blocked here at work), yes, it is a politically motivated name. Guess what bar I will never frequent?

  16. Defeatably_Joe

    According to the suit, the women each earned an average of $500,000 a year in tips for lap and table dances. But the dancers alleged most of the money went to the club to cover “rent,” the disc jockey, stage fees, overhead costs and even penalties if they didn’t get enough men to purchase drinks during a shift.

    I was once told by an, um, acquaintance, who is a DJ (and also in a techno "band" or whatever and also who dates strippers a lot) that these are all extremely common practice, and that ladies typically earn 10 cents on the dollar or less for those lap dances. So, I don't really have much to say other than it'll be good if this means more ladies actually get to keep more of the money they are earning and in that context it is very hard for me to snark about the nature of their labor in this case?

    1. Tundra Grifter

      This is why The Lusty Lady in San Francisco's North Beach is a co-op – owned by the women who work there. They just got tired of being ripped off all the time.

      Then there was the old Condor. Carol Doda would come down to the stage on the top of a piano lowered from the ceiling. One night, after closing, a bouncer/barker and one of the employees decided to get it on while on the piano.

      It went up and crushed him. The poor woman had to spend the night under the dead guy until the morning crew arrived.

    2. mayor_quimby

      As one who was once awesome enough to have a stripper GF, I have firsthand knowledge of these practices.
      The first $75 goes to the house every night
      You have to tip the house mom who works in the dressing room – about $25
      TIp the DJ for him to introduce you on the mic and play your favorite songs – $25
      Oh, and if you're late, you have to pay based on how late you are. Say your shift starts at 7p, and you get there at 8, that's an extra $100 to the house, I believe it was $50 per half hour at the time.
      And you ARENT ALLOWED to leave during your shift, and at closing time you have to wait until all the patrons to leave the parking lot before you can go to your car. This is supposed to be for the safety of the girls, and to prevent them from turning tricks during their shift, so I guess that part is sort of a good thing.
      Ahhh, the things I learned dating a stripper, good times, good times.
      Most weekend nights, she would still clear $500.
      Oh, I forgot the part where if you're the boyfriend, all of a sudden it's MY job to pay for your trip to the Abortionplex!

  17. calliecallie

    $500,000 a year does make me wonder if perhaps I went in to the wrong line of work two decades ago.

  18. Steverino247

    And the club owner is going to have to increase the cover charge by .50 to pay for Obamacare, too, I suppose.

  19. CrunchyKnee

    The jerbs creators at the Rhino will have to shut their doors as they cannot be free to make the monies that God himself has ordained them to make.

    Papa Johns LIBELZ!!!!!!!111

  20. Jus_Wonderin

    "each earned an average of $500,000 a year in tips for lap and table dances"

    Damn. Sign me up. I mean, aside from being a male where other males might not appreciate my unique brand of lap dance…I can do this.

    1. SayItWithWookies

      Weird — from the article it seems they were already in the country and she was just giving them a ride to Phoenix. Even weirder is that closeted extortionist Paul Babeu is apparently still the sheriff in Pinal County.

  21. savethispatient

    Sounds like someone was actually doing it to "pay her way through college" and for a law degree at that…

  22. coolhandnuke

    I will be taking my tips across the street to Peppermint Patty's, an all-union lesbian nudie bar.

    1. Rotundo_

      So who would organize a strippers union? SAG would be frowned upon, the Teamsters would probably be the best. Would the union label be a tramp stamp? I would be willing to check if I frequented this sort of establishment…

  23. elviouslyqueer

    Okay, the bad news is that I am now temporarily blind from all the NEKKID BOOBIES on the Spearmint Rhino USA website, because ew.

    The good news, though, is that a brand new location is open now in IOWA, which should light up Chuck Grassley's Twitter like a fucking Christmas tree.

  24. CrunchyKnee

    They have "clubs" in England. All I can think of is the Simpsons episode with the toothy Brit lady saying, "fresh'n your drink, Gov'ner."

  25. Designer_Rants

    One of my local strip clubs is called "Touch of Class", which is more often referred to as "Touch of Ass". I'm also told it does not, in fact, endow touches of class.

  26. docterry6973

    500K? Line up, ladies, the docterry club is open for business! Bring plenty of singles for those tips.

  27. barto

    You simply cannot be an independent contractor if you are required to be somewhere at some time by the eimployer. I hope these women get everything they are due!

  28. Not_So_Much

    We got a Rhino in Idaho? I'm told we have RINOs — but none that I want to see in a sparkly G-string.

    1. tessiee

      I have a feeling that most of them are good at math because they have to be, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

  29. ttommyunger

    This is common practice in Georgia. Dancers have to pay a tip-out fee to every employee in the club, including the bar-backs. It isn't unheard of for a girl to put in an entire shift and have to borrow money from another employee or dancer to make her tip-out. Their big money is made in the VIP Rooms. A fee goes to the House ($20 and up for the first half-hour) but whatever monies change hands for services rendered inside are all hers….or so I've heard.

  30. mmeetoilenoir

    This is why it's best to work in a small club where the tip-outs aren't so onerous. A swanky place will make you broke sometimes, and it really stinks when you're having a slow night.

    I used to be a dancer. If I went back now, I'd want to cocktail waitress. You get good tips without the insanity that goes along with being on the stage.

  31. shawnthesheep

    I much prefer the name they used for a strip club on South Park. I mean, The Peppermint Hippo is just so much sexier.

  32. DahBoner

    Guys just watch a porno on your tv throw money at the screen then when its over rake up $500,000 a year and save yourself a LOT of money…

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