Woman at center of Clay County sheriff's controversy wins lawsuit against Wichita Falls topless bar

Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson

A Henrietta woman at the center of a controversy involving the Clay County sheriff has won a judgement against a Wichita Falls strip club in a different legal setting, according to court records.

Sarah Lynn Johnson, 29, was awarded $88,425 in a labor lawsuit against Bombshells' Topless club in federal court, according to court filings.

Johnson accused Bombshells' owner David A. Brooks and his company, North Texas Dancers, of wrongly classifying her and other female dancers as independent contractors, court filings show.

'A ham sandwich': Sheriff Jeff Lyde blames judge for 'fiasco' that led to oppression charges

The topless dancers did not receive hourly wages since they were classified as contractors instead of employees — plus they had to pay a house fee for each shift, according to court filings.

This setup violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to court filings.

Johnson was awarded $44,212.50 for unpaid wages and $44,212.50 for damages in a May 24 judgement, court records show.

Efforts to collect the judgement continued when a U.S. deputy marshal served Brooks on Dec. 9, court filings show.

Johnson filed the lawsuit against the club's parent company, North Texas Dancers, on Sept. 8, 2020, in a Wichita Falls federal court.

Clay County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyde answered media questions during a press conference on Dec. 7, 2021.
Clay County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyde answered media questions during a press conference on Dec. 7, 2021.

She worked as a dancer from about May 2014 through March 2020 at Bombshells' and the company's after-hours strip club, located at the same property and called The Alibi or Vudu Lounge, according to court filings.

Not only did North Texas Dancers fail to pay wages for hours worked, but the company also required them to hand over a house fee or kickback ranging from $20 to $50 for each shift to the owner or management, according to the lawsuit.

Brooks and North Texas Dancers denied the allegations, according to court filings.

Johnson sought minimum wages, damages, attorneys' fees and court costs, court records show.

The lawsuit allowed other dancers employed by the company to opt in, but court records did not show any others joining Johnson's lawsuit.

More: Why were Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde's accusers arrested? Here's what we know

Brooks' attorney, Mark Barber, withdrew from representing him because his client didn't cooperate in his own defense, according to court records filed by Barber.

Brooks failed to hire a new lawyer, so on April 2, U.S. Judge Reed O'Connor directed Johnson to ask for a judgement, which he granted, court documents show.

Controversy surrounding Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde

Johnson is also one of Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde's accusers.

Lyde is accused of intentionally jailing Johnson and her boyfriend, 33-year-old Landon Paul Goad, for over 48 hours without a finding of probable cause from a magistrate, according to allegations in court records.

A Clay County grand jury indicted Lyde on two charges of official oppression in connection with July 10 incidents, court records show.

Lyde maintains his innocence. He blames a local magistrate for the situation that led to Johnson and Goad's overlong stay in jail without probable cause findings.

The magistrate, Clay County Justice of the Peace John Swenson, wrote a letter to a district attorney that led to an investigation and indictments against Lyde.

Check back with www.timesrecordnews.com for more on this developing story.

Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news tips at tchoate@gannett.com. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.

This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Woman wins labor lawsuit against Wichita Falls Bombshells Topless club