Florida County Requires Sex Business Employees to Carry Licenses

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla.— The person cutting your hair has a license. The person cutting you open has a license.

But does the person cutting you a deal on Jenna Jameson’s latest bondage-filled sex fest have to have a license?

Such is the case in Manatee County, where local officials recently passed a law that requires employees at adult bookstores and sex shops to carry county-issued licenses while at work.

County officials said the new rule, part of an adult entertainment ordinance enacted in May, will make adult businesses safer by screening employees for drug offenses or prostitution-related crimes.

Many local adult business owners take issue with the new requirement, however, arguing that it invades an employees’ privacy and supports an unfair stereotyping of the industry.

“It's invasive and unfair because it puts the individuals under a greater burden than anyone else,” attorney Luke Lirot told XBiz. Lirot is representing three clubs in Manatee that have taken the county to court over the new law.

Fred Loveland, director of the county’s Community Services department, said the new license rules were developed after a federal appeals court struck down the county’s earlier attempt to heavily regulate the adult industry in the county. In April the county had attempted to impose minimum clothing requirements at strip clubs and wanted to give law enforcement the right to search clubs without warrants.

"The county felt a need to govern these places," Loveland said.

The new license will include a background check for prostitution, drug or “lewd and lascivious” offenses within the last five years. It costs $50 and must be renewed every year for $25 if the individual remains in the employ of the adult business. The license will include the employee’s photograph and instructs the owner to carry the card “at all times while on duty.”

Violators of the new license requirement may be punished with a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for each day of an offense.