Tampa strip club manager claims he was fired over owner’s racism

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In 2013, Michael Steven Schiele was working as general manager at a Tampa strip club owned by Southeast Showclubs LLC.

During that time, Schiele, a 33-year-old Tampa resident and self-proclaimed disc jockey and comedian, alleges Southeast’s owner, Michael Tomkovich, 51, engaged in consistently racist behavior toward staff.

Schiele claims Tomkovich instructed him to actively “thin the herd” of black employees, forcing him to apply different rules to black dancers than their white counterparts. Schiele refused.

In another example, after Schiele had hired a black female to work the door, Tomkovich allegedly told him: “Fantastic, now I have a ni**er door girl.”

Schiele was fired shortly after that.

Believing he was wrongly dismissed because of his refusal to follow Tomkovich’s racist instructions, Schiele filed suit against Southeast Showclubs in Hillsborough County Court seeking damages.

This suit is not the first time both Tomkovich and his clubs have faced legal action.

In 2014, two former servers at Tampa Gold Club, owned by Southeast, allege they were groped, harassed and propositioned by co-workers.

After hearing their complaints, the servers said neither Tomkovich nor management took any action other than what was described as “adverse employment action,” giving the women little recourse but to quit.

Again in 2012, John Desmond, a former Southeast director of operations, sued Tomkovich and his chain of 10 adult nightclubs claiming he was fired after only six months without reason. He claims to be owed a severance package of $637,000.

And in March 2012, Bliss Cabaret — a full liquor topless bar in St. Petersburg also owned by Tomkovich — garnered media attention when a young entrepreneur was saddled with a $50,000 bill after he entered for a little “light entertainment.”

The man, Lokesh James, alleges he only spent $625 during his visit; the remainder was the result of unscrupulous staff fraudulently charging his card.

According to an article published by ED Publications — an adult entertainment industry news website — former aviation mechanic Tomkovich bought his first club in 1992.

Since then, he had been slowly expanding his empire, as well as brushes with the law, ever since.

In the article, Tomkovich is quoted saying: “What I’ve done now is put a general manager in charge of each location, and then I go directly to them to see what’s going on with my clubs.”

“Instead of telling someone, ‘Just handle it,’” Tomokovich explained, “I still like to have some sort of hands-on approach to what is going on.”

Neither party could be reached for comment as of press time; the website for Southeast Showclubs currently states they “are currently updating our existing website to accommodate our growth and expansion. Please check soon.”