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Judge: Stripper is Employee, Entitled to Back Pay

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BALTIMORE — A federal judge has ruled that a Baltimore stripper is entitled to back wages because her nightclub wrongly classified her as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

Unique Butler, who used the stage name Dior, sued for back pay in federal court in Baltimore. On Thursday, U.S. Senior Judge William Nickerson ruled in her favor.

Norma Jean’s Nite Club, where Butler worked, said it gives all employees the option of working as an employee or independent contractor, and that all dancers, including Butler, chose to work as contractors. The club’s owner said dancers are allowed to keep all the tips they receive, set their own hours, and choose their own outfits.

But the judge said that overall, the dancers are more akin to employees than contractors under federal law.

Further hearings and a possible trial will determine the amount of back pay to which Butler is entitled.

Similar lawsuits have been filed on behalf of strippers in other states, but Butler’s attorney, Jamon Wiggs, said the ruling is the first of its kind in the federal court system’s 4th Circuit, which encompasses Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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