CHICAGO — Chicago’s Admiral Theatre today was hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging the strip club and its owner failed to pay performers minimum wage and took a portion of their tips.
Lead plaintiff Paulina Wisniewska, who has been an exotic dancer at the Admiral since 2013, said that owner Sam Cecola controlled every aspect of the performers’ work lives, dictating everything from what they wear to when they can leave the club to how much they can receive for private dances.
Cecola, meanwhile, classified performers as independent contractors “when in reality they are employees,” said the suit filed at Chicago federal court.
“Dancers must dance on stage for at least two songs at a time,” the suit said. “They must remove their top during the first 10 to 15 seconds of the first song and remove their bottom during the first 10 to 15 seconds of the second song; they are not allowed to carry a phone with them on the floor; and they must receive permission from management to leave the premises before the end of the night.”
The suit said the performers must offer a floor dance and promotional T-shirt at least once during the night. On certain nights, performers must also oblige with “mystery dances” and “two-for-one” specials, according to the complaint.
Cecola, the suit said, has been known to punitively fine performers or send them home “if they are caught chewing gum on the premises” as well as “if dancers are late getting on stage.”
The suit claimed that performers “receive compensation only in the form of gratuities from patrons” and are forced to pay house fees of between $40 and $180 each shift. They also are forced to share tips with other club workers, even “house moms.”
The Admiral made headlines last month when adult superstar Stormy Daniels appeared there as part of her national “Make America Horny Again” tour.
Because of Chicago liquor ordinances that prohibit alcohol sales at venues that allow full nudity, the Admiral does not have a bar.