Three former dancers and door girls from the Tampa gentleman’s club Thee Dollhouse have filed suit against the establishment, claiming they and others, are collectively owed millions in unpaid wages.
The plaintiffs — Vikki Vellucci, 46, Lindsay Brizzi, 30 and Alissa Buckingham, 24 — say they are just a few of a potential 300 exotic dancers and door girls who were swindled by the Dollhouse over the last half decade. The three allege that the Dollhouse — which also operates as JBM Management Inc. — and its president, William Bullard, didn’t pay the dancers or door-girls a cent in wages, but actually required them to fork over a fee for each shift worked under the pretense that dancers were independent contractors, rather than employees.
The lawsuit, filed April 20 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, also alleges that the club required the plaintiffs and their peers to share tips with DJs and other non-tipped employees, which sometimes even included the Dollhouse itself.
According to the Florida Constitution, an employer is permitted to use a portion of its tipped employees’ earned tips to meet its minimum wage requirements so long as the company provides its tipped employees with notice of the tip credit provisions.
As is written in the lawsuit, an exception to this rule occurs when tipped employees contribute to a valid tip pool among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips.
In addition to being accused of misclassifying the dancers and door girls as independent contractors, the Dollhouse is also being accused of not giving proper notice to tipped employees about these tip credit provisions.
According to the suit, Vellucci, who worked at the Dollhouse in 2011 and 2012, is owed over $27,000. While Brizzi, who worked there in 2011, is owed roughly $8,100. And Buckingham, who earned her money there in 2011, is owed $6,400.
In total — as is stated in the proposed class-action lawsuit — the plaintiffs estimate the class of about 300 dancers and door girls affected are owed $3.7-million in all.
In February 2016, the Tampa Tribune reported on a similar federal lawsuit filed against Baby Dolls of Clearwater, citing the alleged incident as part of a national trend.