Exotic dancer Zipporah Foster has lost one of two lawsuits she filed last year against Portland strip clubs seeking hourly wages and back pay.
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Skye ruled May 18 that Foster was an independent contractor, not an employee, when she worked at Exotica International Club for Men.
Therefore, Skye ruled the Northeast Portland club does not owe Foster the money she was suing for — $43,688 in back wages, plus $64,260 in stage fees and tips she claimed she was forced to pay the club's DJs and bouncers when she worked there from 2003 to 2007.
"Exotica's really happy, because the business model they have has been vindicated under Oregon law," says Richard Meneghello, an attorney for the club. "They're happy because they've always tried to do the right thing."
As previously reported in WW, the lawsuit hinged on the definition of an employee. Most clubs don't pay strippers hourly wages, saying dancers are "independent contractors." Many clubs even charge dancers a stage fee, or force them to pay out a portion of their tips.
Meneghello says he argued in the one-day bench trial last week that Foster should be considered a contractor rather than an employee because of the freedom she had. He says Exotica did not control her schedule or the hours she worked, nor did the club dictate what she wore, how she danced or the amount she charged for private dances.
Foster, who was previously profiled in WW, has a similar lawsuit pending against Southeast Portland's Safari Showclub and Stars Cabaret in Beaverton. She has not yet filed suit against Shimmers on Southeast Foster Road as she threatened last year.
Foster could not be reached for comment.