Stormy Daniels wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday condemning a new California labor law that severely restricts the definition of an independent contractor — and forces strippers and exotic dancers like herself to work as employees instead of freelancers. Readers took to Twitter to voice support and appreciation for the “interesting case” Daniels made, though some disagreed with her stance.
Daniels — who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 — was reacting to what’s known as Dynamex, a unanimous, landmark decision from the California Supreme Court that makes it more difficult for workers to be classified as independent contractors. She pointed out that the decision, which is being codified as law, states that to be an independent contractor, someone must do “work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.”
“The work strippers do is clearly not outside the usual course of a strip club’s business,” Daniels wrote. “At least one judge has already issued a ruling that dancers must be classified as employees.”
Daniels says she understands why many workers back the bill: “Who doesn’t want health insurance and worker’s comp coverage? These are desirable benefits to which all exotic dancers should be entitled, and some have said they would prefer to be employees in order to get them.”
But she refutes this reasoning, listing the myriad benefits of working for strip clubs as an independent contractor and calling the employee status “highly undesirable.” According to Daniels, the key advantages to being freelance are anonymity, flexibility and autonomy.
“Today I’m very public about the nature of my work, but that has not always been the case,” she writes. “When I started dancing, I was private about it, as were many of the women I danced with. I had no interest in filling out forms that would give the club — and potentially government authorities — detailed personal information about myself.”
Daniels also says that working as a freelance stripper when she was a student allowed her to set her own schedule, picking hours and days that accommodated her classes, and that flexibility is one of the main draws of her profession.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 5, 2019
“The successful strippers I know are industrious entrepreneurs,” Daniels writes. “We move from club to club, going where the money is best. Many dancers are raising kids, attending school or engaged in some other demanding pursuit, and we need to be able to work when we want, where we want, making reliable money paid at the end of each shift.”
Being an independent contractor also gives an exotic dancer the freedom to set boundaries that help her feel safe.
“Strippers get naked and dance for our customers,” Daniels writes. “It’s a sensitive profession. As independent contractors, we can perform when, where, how and for whom we want. If we are classified as employees, club managers would be empowered to dictate those conditions. … We need legislation that will allow workers to continue working as independent contractors if they choose.”
Many readers on Twitter said they were impressed with the piece and agreed with a lot of what Daniels said.
Very important. Being legally considered as employees in California is very harmful to strippers. https://t.co/aOE4HKvGJ3
— lalonie (@SLAYLONIE) February 5, 2019
She is right. And I’m not applying this only to strippers. Anyone with unique talent, skill or expertise should be allowed to select between direct employment and independent contractor status.
— John Deyulia (@JDeyulia) February 5, 2019
I agree with this statement. Just because you are in the adult sex industry does not mean that you should be taken advantage of and sex workers are often taken advantage of in more ways than one.
— JustMyOpinion (@MalibuMom62) February 5, 2019
I'm a freelance journalist who lost a long-standing gig because of the Dynamex ruling. The state legislature needs to correct this overreach by the California Supreme Court. We need a law that recognizes there those of us who depend on beneficial freelance working relationships.
— John Conroy (@JohnCon51568523) February 5, 2019
An interesting dilemma, here — employers abuse the "independent contractor" status to avoid all sorts of conduct that would be illegal against employees, but Daniels raises good points, too.
Maybe a law/rule where the default is employee, but the employee can opt out?
— Chad in a 🎩 (@RevDJEsq) February 5, 2019
Her reasons are well argued.
There’s probably people on the other side of this that want employee benefits instead.
That health insurance and banks being willing to lend to you are tied to employment may be the real problem.
— Julie Erick Save What We Love (@JulieErick3) February 5, 2019
Others acknowledged the strength of Daniels’s argument but offered counterpoints.
Stormy makes some excellent points, but I'm a little worried about the fact that she is employed as a spokeswoman for a company that owns a bunch of these clubs. Is this really how most dancers feel or is she simply speaking on behalf of the club owners?
— Iain Kerr (@sarion_gamer) February 5, 2019
Stormy makes some interesting points but employers do have the capacity to allow flexible scheduling at will. They also have a legal requirement to hold all employee info as confidential. The employee can have autonomy and still be protected as an employee.
— xtraslky (@xtraslky) February 6, 2019
But some felt that her op-ed was completely off the mark.
It’s understandable why employee status is controversial among strippers but Stormy Daniels fully misses the point that clubs classify dancers as contractors *and* make them do exactly this all the time. https://t.co/jDRQ9UuE1q pic.twitter.com/gtSf1K5Icw
— Susan Elizabeth Shepard (@SusanElizabeth) February 5, 2019
And plenty of folks were simply taken aback that Daniels — whose op-ed ran a day after a California judge dismissed her defamation suit against Michael Cohen and President Trump — is a budding opinion writer.
She’s the AOC of adult entertainment
— GacWell (@gac_well) February 5, 2019
Stormy Daniels is the most sophisticated political philosopher of our time https://t.co/1zoBYo6mpg
— Fuedalism Is Good (@HousingMonopoly) February 5, 2019
Sure, I was definitely expecting Stormy Daniels to weigh in on the Dynamex decision https://t.co/mKtdrCRuG3
— Melanie Mason (@melmason) February 5, 2019
— Jeremy B. White (@JeremyBWhite) February 5, 2019
Lorena Gonzalez, the California assemblywoman who introduced the Dynamex bill, also got into the discussion.
Dear @StormyDaniels – if you’d like to really weigh in this bill, come see me. (I’m the author.) Or let’s do a live debate, if you prefer. But this is poppycock. Let’s protect all women. #AB5 . https://t.co/1GLOlDvAdD
— Lorena (@LorenaSGonzalez) February 6, 2019
Daniels did not respond to the tweet, but Gonzalez told one commenter that the Supreme Court had been “working closely with the adult entertainment guild and their dancers” in the wake of the decision.
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