North Hollywood club strippers were unlawfully fired, NLRB says

Star Garden, a topless hangout in North Hollywood, broke labor laws when it fired three strippers and locked out 15 others for raising concerns about their health and safety, the National Labor Relations Board said.

Star Garden and its staff made headlines when dancers began picketing outside the club, discouraging customers from entering by describing conditions they described as unsafe. Eight dancers told the Times in interviews that security management had told them not to intervene when clients threatened the dancers’ safety.

The complaint, issued Tuesday by an NLRB regional office in Los Angeles, finds allegations by a group of strippers who protested outside Star Garden for months after being banned from work in late February.

The NLRB is seeking reinstatement of the dancers at a March hearing before an administrative judge. The labor authority is also demanding that the dancers be compensated for the damage they suffered.

“The Star Garden dancers have collectively raised concerns about their health and safety and the employer has unfairly taken action against them for doing so,” NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado said in an email.

Vahe Khojayan, an attorney representing Star Garden, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The NLRB’s move bodes well for dancers’ unionization efforts, which have stalled because Star Garden’s owners argue that dancers pushing for a union were not actually employed by the company.

The Star Garden strippers petitioned for union elections in August to be elected by the Actors’ Equity Assn. to be represented, an established union representing actors and stage managers.

The NLRB counted ballots in historic union elections last month with disappointing results. The majority of the ballots had to be overturned as they had been contested by Star Garden owners and the vote count could not therefore be completed.

Mori Rubin, director of the NLRB Region 31 office overseeing the case, may decide to tie the two issues — the contested ballots and the alleged unlawful retaliation — in a hearing, said Blado, the NLRB spokesman.

The strippers’ union efforts come amid a strengthening labor movement at companies that have long shied away from organized labor, including Starbucks and Amazon, although the broad national union rate has not risen significantly. Unions like Actor’s Equity are pursuing previously untapped worker groups to expand their membership.

If the dancers’ union vote eventually succeeds, they would be the first strip club dancers in the country to join a guild since 1996.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-12-09/north-hollywood-topless-bar-star-garden-unlawfully-fired-protesting-strippers-nlrb-alleges North Hollywood club strippers were unlawfully fired, NLRB says

Alley Einstein

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