DENVER (AP) -- Strippers who say they were paid only in tips and had to pay to work at a Grand Junction club are suing the club and its owner in federal court.
In the class-action lawsuit announced Tuesday, five women who used to work at Fantasy Gentleman's Club said they received no wages and had to pay varying rates to work at the club depending on the time and location in the club. They said they also had to give bouncers and disc jockeys up to 15 percent of their tips.
According to signs posted at the club, the women also had to pay fines for violating rules, such as complaining about their personal lives to customers or if a customer touched them inappropriately, or if they changed their schedule or couldn't work. They also had to pay a $30 fine if they didn't have money to pay their fees the same day.
The lawsuit claims the women were wrongly classified as independent contractors, and seeks back wages, tips and overtime. Lawyers believe there are more than 50 women who worked at the club over the past three years who are eligible to join.
Lawyer Mari Newman, who is representing the women, said lawsuits have been filed challenging similar pay structures at other strip clubs across the country but that Fantasy's fine system is more extreme than seen elsewhere.
Owner Kevin Eardley confirmed that the photographs of signs displaying fees and rules included in the lawsuit were from his club and defended them. He said strippers are fined for anything that he could be fined for by the state.
Eardley said the women signed contracts agreeing to, in effect, lease space in the club to work, like some hairstylists do. He said it's a common practice at Colorado strip clubs.
"They were never employees," he said.
Newman said the women should be considered more like wait staff than hairstylists, mainly because they didn't have much control over their work, as evidenced by the fines.