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updated: 6/24/2014 12:54 PM

Exotic dancer sues western Wisconsin strip club

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Associated Press

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- An exotic dancer is suing a western Wisconsin strip club, accusing the owners of violating state and federal labor laws by failing to paying dancers hourly wages and overtime.

Elizabeth Mays claims the owners of 4 Mile Gentlemen's Club in Fountain City charged a "stage fee" of $5 to $27 and forced dancers to perform even when the club was near empty and the customers weren't tipping, according to the La Crosse Tribune (http://bit.ly/1nzCG5W).

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The complaint filed May 30 also alleges that owners Ambrose T. Schwartz Jr., Diane M. Schwartz, Sylvester Weaver and Pamela Weaver exert "substantial control" over dancers' work schedules, what clothing they wear, the prices charged for their work, which customers they are allowed to serve, and the types of dancing allowed.

Dancers were also required to pay a fee for each dance performed and share their earnings with bartenders and bouncers, Mays said. Club owners also imposed penalties of up to $50 for being late to a shift.

"There were plenty of nights we went home with less money than we came in with," Mays said.

Mays, who now lives in Wausau, worked at the 4 Mile from 2011 until earlier this year, after being fired for demanding receipts for the fees she paid, according to her lawsuit.

A manager at 4 Mile declined comment to the newspaper Monday afternoon. Messages left Tuesday by The Associated Press at numbers listed for the four owners were not immediately returned.

Mays is a plaintiff in two similar lawsuits against strip club owners in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Wausau, and hopes to file two more against other clubs where she has worked in her six-year career as a dancer.

In recent years, dancers across the country have won similar lawsuits against club owners, including a nearly $13 million settlement in California in 2012 that granted strippers employee status.

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

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