You might joke you’re just going to quit college or your day job to become a stripper, because it’s a lot of money in a little bit of time, but the reality of being a stripper is nothing like those Twitter memes.

Strippers are rarely considered actual employees at the clubs where they strip and don’t typically have a salary.  They face excessive sexual harassment not just from patrons, but from their employers as well. When your boss is the one harassing you in a club, there’s no HR to go to, so where do you turn?

Brandi Campbell, danced in over 50 clubs across the US and while working at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Las Vegas, she grew fed up with the blatant sexual advances from her employer. Campbell decided to sue her employer for sexual harassment, the problem was, she wasn’t considered an employee.

A story in the December issue of Vice, How Strippers Are Fighting Exploitative Workplace Environments” explores the complex legal battles for workers rights and the huge steps strippers are taking to be recognized as working women.

Since 2012 Nevada, California, Georgia, New York, and South Carolina, judges have ruled that strippers are to be considered as employees of clubs granting them millions of dollars in back wages.

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Vice reported one of the biggest wins was Terry v Sapphire where the Nevada Supreme court ruled that strippers formerly working at Sapphire’s Gentlemen’s Club in las Vegas were owed $8.25 for every hour they worked as well as a refund of the stag fees that they had to pay in order to use the stage. The club was required to pay 10,000 dancers $80 million. This was a landmark in recognizing that strippers were not independent contractors but employees.

Despite the club’s attempt to appeal, the ruling was upheld. It was this decision that prompted other strippers in Nevada to take action. The major rulings garnered so much attention that in February a bill was introduced on the Senate floor for the purpose of “redefining the rules by which workers were classified as employees and independent contractors.”

Bill SB224 threatens all the recent rulings and current cases of strippers trying to gain employment status. The bill “proposed an automatic classification of workers as independent contractors, granting employee status only if they fit various criteria, such as working for only one employer and being given a uniform.”

When the bill was signed into law in June, Sapphire v. Terry was brought back into court on an appeal and the strippers were forced to settle out of court for $6 million, loosing out on the $80 million previously owed to them.

Other cases like Campbell’s now hang in the balance. If classified by SB224, Campbell will be considered an independent contractor and will have no base for her sexual harassment suit.

Clearly stripping is far from the easy, glamorous life we sometimes like to believe it is.

Campbell says to Vice ” a representative from the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, which is tasked with enforcing safe working conditions in the state, had told her that in the past the agency had refused to take any complaints from strippers because of the sexually charged environment of their jobs.”

Her situation like many others describes a common social misconception that sex workers cannot be sexually harassed because sex is a part of their job.

Read the full story on Vice!

Photo: Millie Robson

Ariel Leconte

Ariel Leconte

Ariel is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and creator of Revolutionary In Pink Pumps blog. She is equally obsessed with social justice, lipstick, culture, and red wine.