United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
ORDER ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
T. WINGATE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by
the Plaintiff, United States Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (hereafter “EEOC”) [doc. no.
75]. Defendant, Danny's of Jackson LLC
(hereafter “Danny's of Jackson” or
“Defendant”) opposes the motion. The parties have
completed briefing and this court is ready to rule.
lawsuit is an enforcement action brought by the EEOC under
the auspices of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, as amended, and the Civil Rights Act of
1991, to correct allegedly unlawful employment practices of
the Defendant based on race. The suit seeks relief on behalf
of Ashley Williams and other Black female exotic dancers,
namely, Latoria Garner; Sharday Moss; Jordyn Riddle; and
Adrea Samuel (hereafter referred to collectively as
‘complainants'). They contend that they were
subjected to disparate terms and conditions of employment
based on their race.
insists that it is not liable for the alleged violations of
Title VII, because, inter alia,  the dancers here
involved were not ‘employees' of Defendant, but
‘independent contractors'. Plaintiff herein then
brings this motion for partial summary judgment in its favor
on that key issue of this dispute: whether complainants
involved in this litigation were ‘employees' rather
than ‘independent contractors.'
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
complainants worked as exotic dancers at the Danny's
Downtown Cabaret, a strip club located in downtown Jackson,
Mississippi, for varying periods of time. They earned money
through customer tips for stage performances and through fees
for private dances. Defendant did not pay, and does not pay,
dancers minimum wage, a regular salary, or overtime.
Nevertheless, the EEOC contends that the degree of control
Danny's exerted over numerous aspects of its dancers'
work --setting requirements for their hours, regulating their
conduct while at work, setting the fees charged for private
dances, approving the music used, and generally controlling
their ability to earn money - destroys any arguments that
they were independent contractors. Therefore, says EEOC, this
affirmative defense fails as a matter of law and the EEOC is
entitled to partial summary judgment on this issue.
who worked at Danny's was required to sign an
“Entertainment Lease, ” which spelled out the
rules of conduct, how scheduling worked and other matters
Wade deposition [doc. no. 75-5 p. 27]. This
document, in addition, stated that no employment relationship
existed between Danny's and the signatory, and even
described the relationship at one point as that of
“landlord and tenant.” Entertainment Lease of
Ashley Williams [doc. no. 75-4 at p. 3 ¶ 12]. Page
3 of the Entertainment Lease offers the following:
12. Business Relationship of Parties. The parties
acknowledge and represent that the business relationship
created between the Club and Entertainer is that of landlord
and tenant for the joint and non-exclusive leasing of the
Premises (meaning that other entertainers are also leasing
portions of the Premises at the same time), and that his
[sic] relationship is a material (meaning significant) part
of this Lease. THE PARTIES SPECIFICALLY DISAVOW ANY
EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THEM, and agree that this
Lease shall not be interpreted as creating an
employer/employee relationship or any contract for
employment. Entertainer acknowledges and represents that she
is providing no services for or to the Club and that the Club
does not employ her in any capacity. . . .
Entertainment Lease of Ashley Williams [doc. no.
75-4 at p. 3 ¶ 12].
this suit was brought against Danny's Restaurant, LLC, as
well as against Danny's of Jackson, LLC. Danny's
Restaurant, LLC did not file an answer nor enter an
appearance in this cause. The Clerk of Court entered default
against it on August 24, 2017 [doc. no. 41]. The remaining
Defendant, Danny's of Jackson, LLC, has owned and
operated a strip club near downtown Jackson known as
Danny's Downtown Cabaret, since on or about April of
2016. Prior to April of 2016, Baby O's Restaurant, Inc.
(hereafter “Baby O's”) owned and operated
Danny's Downtown Cabaret at the same location. EEOC says
that Danny's of Jackson is the successor in interest to
Baby O's .
the EEOC had issued a Letter of Determination on June 2,
2016, finding reasonable cause to believe that the Defendant
had violated Title VII. Efforts at conciliation failed and on
July 29, 2016, the Plaintiff issued to Defendants a Notice of
Failure of Conciliation. Thereafter, on September 30, 2016,
EEOC filed the instant litigation on behalf of the
complainants. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia,
injunctive relief, damages and other affirmative relief to
make the complainants whole. Complainant Ashley Williams,
joins in the accusations championed by the others, but adds a
charge of wrongful termination, for which she seeks, in
addition, back pay and front pay or reinstatement in lieu
thereof. Plaintiff also asks for punitive damages for what it
alleges to be malicious and reckless conduct.
judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a); Copeland v. Nunan, 250 F.3d 743
(5th Cir. 2001); see also Wyatt v. Hunt
Plywood Company, Inc., 297 F.3d 405, 408-09
(2002). When assessing whether a dispute to any
material fact exists, all of the evidence in the record must
be considered, but the court must refrain from making
credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000); instead,
the court is to “draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the nonmoving party.” Id.;
Wyatt, 297 F.3d at 409. All evidence and the
reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom must be viewed in
the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.
United States v. Diebold, Inc. 369 U.S. 654, 655
party, however, cannot defeat summary judgment with
conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or
“only a scintilla of evidence.” TIG Ins. Co.
v. Sedgwick James ofWash. 276 F.3d 754, 759
(5th Cir. 2002); S.E.C. v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093,
1097 (5th Cir. 1997); Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994). Summary
judgment is appropriate if a reasonable jury could not return