Can sexual harassment occur in a strip club? You bet it can and it does. Many of the young women take jobs in strip clubs, as servers or strippers, naively thinking that it can provide them with an income to pay the bills or their college tuition. While their main concern is the customer, unfortunately, many of these young women find themselves sexually assaulted by coworkers, managers and owners. They don’t come forward because they believe that there is no right of action or that no one will believe them. Compounding the problem is that many of them live a transient lifestyle or have had past criminal problems.
To be honest, I never gave the subject much thought. Why? Well, no one ever approached me to handle a case against a strip club. This weekend, I saw an article in the New York Daily News about a Manhattan employment lawyer who routinely sues strip clubs for sexually harassing their women employees. (Click here to read the article.) The clubs he sues are not the stereotypical grungy dive, these are the clubs that bill themselves as upscale “gentlemen’s clubs”. (Not that it matters, sex harassment is sex harassment whether it occurs in a dive or the corporate headquarters of a Fortune 500 company) Regardless of your feelings about strip clubs (personally I find them objectionable), the issue is whether these women deserve to be protected from sexual assault and harassment. That is one proposition on which we should all be in agreement.
These cretins that perpetrate this conduct do so because they know they can get away with it. After all who is going to believe a stripper? Lots of people. Especially if you have other coworkers come forward with corroborative information. It’s clear that this is one industry that has no desire to adhere to the law and it is only through the pursuit of litigation against entities that meaningful change can occur in the workplace.