Adult dancers in this state win job protections under "Strippers' Bill of Rights"


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Lawmakers in Washington state signed legislation this week known as the “Strippers’ Bill of Rights,” which advocates say includes the most comprehensive statewide protections in the nation for adult dancers.

The measure, which Gov. Jay Inslee signed Monday, creates safer working conditions for people in the adult entertainment industry and makes it possible for the clubs to eventually sell alcohol.

“It’s pretty simple why we are passing this bill. These are working folks — and working people deserve safety in the environment in which they work,” Inslee said during a press conference Monday.

The new law requires training for employees in establishments to prevent sexual harassment, identify and report human trafficking, de-escalate conflict and provide first aid. It also mandates security workers on site, keypad codes to enter dressing rooms and panic buttons in private rooms where entertainers are alone with customers.


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“Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force,” bill sponsor Sen. Rebecca Saldaña of Seattle, said in a statement. “If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.”

Most dancers in the state are independent contractors who are paid by customers, and must pay fees to clubs for every shift. The new law limits the fees owners can charge, capping them at $150 or 30% of the amount dancers make during their shift. It also prohibits late fees and other charges related to unpaid balances.

Strippers Are Workers, a dancer-led organization in the state since 2018, advocated for the regulations — and alcohol sales.

The organization’s efforts began in response to wide regulation gaps for people performing at the 11 adult entertainment clubs across the state, according to Madison Zack-Wu, the group’s campaign manager.


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Only one other state has added worker protections for adult entertainers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2019, Illinois started requiring that adult entertainment establishments, along with other businesses, have a written sexual harassment policy.

Lawmakers in Florida are mulling a new measure that would prevent individuals under age 21 from working at adult establishments. The bill passed both legislative chambers and awaits signature from Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Exotic dancers in other U.S. cities have tried to gain worker protections in recent years — including at a strip club in Portland, Oregon, and at a dive bar in North Hollywood, California, where dancers voted to unionize. The Nevada Supreme Court in 2014 ruled that adult dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to minimum wage and other protections.

“It is crucial that we confront the stigma surrounding adult entertainment and recognize the humanity of those involved in the industry,” Saldaña said.



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