Can exotic dancers get workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia?

If an exotic dancer is injured at work, can she get workers’ comp? Dancers in the adult entertainment industry are almost guaranteed to be classified by their employers as independent contractors for both tax purposes and workers’ compensation in Georgia. However, just because your boss tells you your injury does not qualify for workers’ comp–because you’re an independent contractor — doesn’t mean it’s true. Sometimes — and I’m sure this is hard for many people to fathom — business owners lie in order to avoid a possible increase in insurance premiums.

Do independent contractors get workers’ comp in Georgia?

Under Georgia law, independent contractors aren’t eligible for workers’ comp. To be eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia, a person must be an employee or a statutory employee. However, if the employer controls the employee’s time, manner, methods and means of execution of their work, then the worker should be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor.

Are exotic dancers independent contractors?

With this particular legal issue, the key component to analyze is the degree of control exerted over the supposed employee by the employer.  In order to gauge the level of control, several questions should be asked to figure out whether a “strip club” entertainer would qualify for workers’ comp if injured at work during a performance.  In a case I handled, we analyzed the factors laid out in a local federal court decision regarding whether nude dancers from the Onyx Club in Atlanta qualified as employees or independent contractors.  A few are analyzed below.

At most strip clubs, a “house mom” has a great deal of control over the dancers.  For example, she may control what the dancer wears (or doesn’t wear), her makeup, her hair, her shoes, her level of coherence (or intoxication), her hours, her song(s) played, her stage (assuming multiple stages), her VIP clientele, etc.  The club may also require splitting of tips with the DJ, bartenders, and other “house” expenses.  Her stage name may be dictated by the club.  Perhaps financial penalties are imposed for not coming to work during slow shifts or when otherwise scheduled.

More than likely, there are several other posted rules and regulations that govern the behavior of the entertainers at a nightclub and make them appear more as employees than as independent contractors.  Violators of such rules can be disciplined, to include suspension or termination.

Again, the key issue to analyze is the level of control exerted over the would-be employees.  While several industries are known to use independent contractors instead of employees, I’ve found that strip clubs seem to work the hardest to so classify their employees when, in all actuality, they put quite a bit of control over those who perform within their hallowed halls.  

Think you might have a case against your nightclub employer?  Feel free to call our Atlanta law firm for a free consultation and analysis.  You might be surprised to learn your options aren’t as limited as you’ve been told.

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