I grew up in Miami, but not this Miami. My weekends were Miami Jai-alai and Coconut Grove, certainly not the hip hop adult club scene.
But if I had grown up in that other world, I might have heard of the King of Diamonds, which I am now aware was the place to be seen if you are looking to spot celebrities at a famous adult entertainment venue. According to Miami newspaper archives, the original club went bankrupt in 2018 after failing to pay its mortgage and its rent. This came on the heels (high heels?) of being cited for serious safety code violations, including malfunctioning fire sprinklers.
Making matters worse, at about the same time, 27 of the club’s dancers sued, alleging wage and hour violations and that they had been illegally misclassified as independent contractors.
The case was delayed because of COVID-19, but it finally went to trial last fall, and the jury agreed that the dancers had been misclassified. Two weeks ago, the judge entered a final judgment, awarding the dancers more than $15 million. Some of the dancers’ individual awards exceeded $800,000.
The takeaway here is that independent contractor misclassification claims are big dollar claims. The defendants in this case drew more attention than usual because of the high profile of their club, but the legal risks apply to any business making widespread use of contractors.
Remember, it’s the law that decides whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. It doesn’t matter what the parties call the relationship or what the written contract says.
The club (or, a club with essentially the same name) reopened in 2020 with new ownership. I don’t know whether they’ve changed the classification and pay structure of their performers, but that would seem like a good idea. They’ll want to keep the place up and running in case Floyd Mayweather comes back with his infamous Money Truck to drop $100,000 on an evening’s entertainment.
For some other wild tales at the old joint, you can read more here.
I was oblivious to that whole scene growing up, but I sure had some great times at Miami Jai Alai (video highlights from 1980s), rooting for Michelena, Benny, and Harretche, and hoping to hit on my trifecta. Good times.
© 2021 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.