If you have any dancer friends in California chances are you’ve heard them talk about what’s going on in the stripclub scene. But what exactly is taking place and why? Why now most importantly, and will this affect you/your state eventually?
It all started when a strict guideline for who/what may be considered an independent contractor was presented under CA law. This is the product of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. Which, to boil it down simply was a case about a company named Dynamex who, beginning of 2004 converted all of its drivers to independent contractors as a cost savings measure. A year later, an employee quit and filed a lawsuit alleging that Dynamex was misclassifying its drivers and had engaged in unfair and unlawful business practices.
There are a few factors that determine whether you are an employee or independent contractor, we call this the ABC test:
(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
As you can tell just by reading letter A, dancers have one hell of a time with this “test.” Free from control? You mean like… what we can charge a customer for a dance, who and how much we tip out or even what music we can dance to? Might this be the “control” they’re speaking about? As a dancer we all know we actually operate in this shady gray area between the two, and California is the first to host this huge debate thanks to AB5.
As with any issue, there are dancers on both sides of the matter. Those who are pro-employee state this grants dancers the ability to unionize (a right only given to employees) to protect against wage theft. THIS is the essential key they’re fighting for. While pro-independent contractors dislike employee status “because there are payroll taxes, withholding taxes and various restrictions like scheduling requirements and shift maximums that simply cannot be mitigated within the employee framework.”
So what does this mean for the other 49 states? As of right now only California has passed this bill but other states such as New York, New Jersey and Illinois are considering adopting similar legislation. However, there is whisper of another bill potentially in the works which would create a third category called a “dependent worker,” who would be neither employee nor contractor but could be granted some similar rights.
How this will play out for each state is too soon to tell. For now we will have to watch California closely and continue our awareness around this subject. The most important thing right now is to further our education on the bill and spread the word to our fellow dancers. Preparation is truly the only tactic we have available to us at the moment. To learn more about AB5 please click on the links provided below, and don’t forget to share with your friends!
1. The Dynamex Decision- The California Supreme Court Restricts Use of Independent Contractors
2. Gig Economy Bills Move Forward to Other Blue States After California Clears the Way
3. California Advances Bill that Would ‘Lead the World’ on Gig Worker Rights