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Would it be better for strippers to be classified as employees or contractors?

A dancer performs at a strip club.
A dancer performs at a strip club.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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In 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court which created new, stricter standards for determining who is classified as a contractor.

The case determined that Dynamex truckers, previously classified as contractors, should be counted as employees -- and the repercussions of the decision have rippled throughout various industries, including the world of strip clubs.

Prior to Dynamex, strippers had been classified as independent contractors. And some of them, including Stormy Daniels, are arguing that it would have been better for them to remain so. The argument goes that as contractors, strippers can choose who they perform for and under which conditions, without the input of a manager. They can cash out daily. And they can move around from club to club, based on financial incentives.

But on the other hand, employee status can provide dancers with some security and benefits, such as sick days. Also, employee status would allow them to unionize and make demands for protections that they currently don’t have.

Today, we debate with a dancer who would prefer contractor status, and a dancer who is using the new employee classification to lead unionization efforts in California.

If you were or are a stripper, what do you think? Which classification would be most beneficial? What do you think of unionizing dancers?


Michael Waterstone, dean and professor of law at Loyola Law School, where his areas of expertise include employment law

Stacy, an entertainer at a strip club in San Diego  

Antonia Crane, entertainer at a strip club; she has been a sex worker for 26 years and she is one of the leaders of Soldiers of Pole, California Exotic Dancers Union, an effort to unionize dancers in the state; she is also a writing instructor at UCLA extension