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Suit Claims Topless Clubs Cheat Workers

Thursday, October 11, 2007

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer

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NEW YORK — 

A chain of upscale topless clubs cheats dancers and other workers by taking portions of their tips and failing to pay proper wages, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, was brought on behalf of Siri Diaz, a former bartender at Scores in Manhattan. It sought class-action status to benefit workers at two clubs in Manhattan and related nightclubs in Chicago, Las Vegas and New Orleans. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Justin M. Swartz, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the clubs had unjustly taken millions of dollars over the years from hundreds of workers in a business where the turnover rate among employees is high.

Curtis Smith, chief financial officer of the Scores Holding Co. Inc., said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Swartz said Scores encourages its customers to use "Diamond Dollars," which they can purchase with a credit card and use toward tips. The lawyer said Scores charged customers an extra fee to buy "Diamond Dollars" and then paid workers less than the value of the tokens.

"So much money flows through these clubs it doesn't seem Scores should have to take that extra chunk from the workers who make this business successful," he said.

Besides the tips, Swartz said the clubs cheat workers by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation. Diaz of West New York, N.J., worked at a Scores club from August 2006 through February 2007.

"We'd like the club to reimburse workers for money they took and to change its policy so workers in the future know that when they get a tip, they've earned it and can keep it," he said.

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