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University of Minnesota study uncovers work hazards exotic dancers face

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New research may lead to increased regulation of Minneapolis adult entertainment venues. The University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center discovered exotic dancers face on-the-job hazards ranging from injuries sustained during performances to physical and sexual assault, but lack basic worker protections.

In particular, the study found that private or semi-private VIP rooms pose the most danger to performers. Clients often expect sexual services for money and can become violent if they don’t feel they are getting what they thought they paid for.

Generally, adult performers are independent contractors, so they are not covered by workers’ compensation and have little leverage in getting club owners to make their work environments safer. Researchers found that many won’t approach law enforcement for fear it would harm their careers.

Clubs typically charge dancers for the use of the stage, DJs and other services, which often dramatically erodes their take-home pay. Club owners walk a fine line between protecting dancers and pleasing customers. Often the customer takes precedence.

The Minneapolis Health Depart­ment, which commissioned the Univer­­sity of Minnesota study, inspected all 17 of the city’s adult entertainment venues. It declared 11 clubs public health nuisances after discovering bodily fluid bio-hazards on the premises. The clubs were told to clean up the fluids and prevent any recurrences.

Note: Independent contractor arrangements in the exotic dance industry have come under increased scrutiny. In several cases, dancers have argued they are employees covered by workers’ compensation, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws.

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