Exotic dancer sues 2 Westmoreland adult clubs, citing employment law violations


An exotic dancer from North Huntingdon wants a local adult nightclub to pay her over $ 58,000 in back pay and damages owed to her because the club misclassified her employment status.

Deanna Betras, 41, alleges that the owners of the former The Filly Corral in South Huntingdon – Oli-Car Inc. – violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law by monitoring the work environment as if she was an employee and would not allow him to work in other clubs.

Instead, the owners listed her as an independent contractor to avoid paying at least minimum wage and overtime when she danced more than 40 hours a week, according to a federal lawsuit filed in July in Pittsburgh. Betras danced intermittently at the Filly Corral from 2007 to March 2020, when the club closed due to pandemic restrictions, according to the costume.

Betras declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Thomas Oliver, secretary-treasurer of the late The Filly Corral, declined to comment on the details of the lawsuit. He said the club operated like other adult clubs, with the dancers working as independent contractors. The club had no control over the dancers, Oliver said.

“She is suing a vanished organization. There is no money (to pay for a judgment). I don’t care what she does, ”Oliver said.

The Filly Corral closed on February 28, Oliver said. The Filly Gentlemen’s Club opened on March 1 at the same site, near the truck stops at the Smithton exit of Interstate 70. Oliver said he was the manager of a property group based in the Virgin Islands. Betras’ lawsuit initially named the Filly Gentlemen’s Club as a defendant, but it was later withdrawn from the lawsuit.

Responding to complaints, dancers were not being paid minimum wage, Oliver said dancers could earn between $ 200 and $ 800 in tips on busy weekend nights.

Betras initially filed for a class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former dancers, but this month asked a judge to give her a default judgment of $ 58,448 which includes nearly $ 26,000 in arrears of wages from July 2018 to March 2020, plus legal fees and damages. A judge this week ordered Betras to provide proof of his attorney fees.

She filed a similar lawsuit in July against CM Thompson Enterprises LLC of Cranberry, operators of the Hideout in Mt. Pleasant Township. She danced there from 2019 to April 2021.

Brian Thompson, attorney for Thompson Enterprises, could not be reached for comment.

Thompson, in an Oct. 18 response to the lawsuit, denied that the dancers were misclassified and that the Hideout took part in their tips. The judge ordered the club and Betras to enter into negotiations to try to resolve the lawsuit before going to trial. The court ordered the parties to choose an alternative dispute resolution method before November 16.

In his lawsuits, Betras described a system in which clubs forced dancers to pay to perform – $ 40 at the Filly Corral and $ 20 at the Hideout.

“Dancers sometimes receive little or no actual pay despite the hours they work,” according to the lawsuit against the Hideout.

Clubs set dancers’ schedules, demanded proof of illness if they missed work, fined them if they were late for work or missed more than three scheduled performances per shift, depending on the costumes. The clubs also set the fees that dancers must charge clients for personalized services.

The Hideout maintained “so much supervision” over the dancers that the costume claims they were not allowed to dress after their performance until they received permission from management.

Betras’ attorneys in Pittsburgh, Edwin J. Kilpela and Elizabeth Pollock Avery, could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuits claim the clubs violated Department of Labor regulations by taking a portion of the dancers’ tips. The Hideout reportedly took $ 64 of the $ 160 the dancers received for giving a client a 30-minute “VIP” experience, while the dancers at the Filly Corral were required to give the club 40% of the fee, according to prosecution.

The clubs took $ 10 of the $ 20 the dancers received when they offered a client a private dance, according to the costumes. The dancers at the Hideout were obligated to offer a customer a free private dance if the customer purchased two dances.

Customers who believe they are tipping women are actually tipping them less because of the deductions, the costumes say.

In July 2019, Franchesca Reyes filed a similar employment law violation complaint against Mag Pitt LLC, operator of the Cheerleaders Gentlemen’s Club on Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, and its senior manager, John Meehan.

Reyes also claimed that management did not pay minimum wage and that the only income the dancers made from working six-hour shifts were the tips they received – although they had to give some of that money to disc jockeys and bouncers, according to the lawsuit. The dancers were scheduled and had to perform topless, depending on the costume. It was settled in October 2019 for an undisclosed amount.

Betras had previously sued the owners of Rick’s Cabaret in Pittsburgh in federal court on the same grounds. She accepted a settlement of $ 5,287 in December 2019 from BGC 135 9th St. Inc., the owner of Rick’s Cabaret.

In New York City, a federal judge awarded a group of exotic dancers nearly $ 10.9 million in wage arrears in 2014, with the obligation to pay them at least a minimum wage.

In another New York City case, a federal judge in 2013 awarded approximately $ 8 million to 1,000 dancers at a city nightclub on the same grounds.

Joe Napsha is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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