Most L.A. operators contacted have adopted a wait-and-see attitude in the wake of the O'Farrell settlement over concerns, they said, that legal issues remain unresolved. "We'd like to see one set thing for everyone, no matter which way it goes," said David Woodrow, manager of the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. His club treats dancers as independent contractors, he said, because "that just seems to be the easiest system for us right now. But we'll go with whatever the decision is."
The Century Lounge near Los Angeles International Airport just converted to an independent-contractor system, for what manager Gene Lombardi characterized as competitive reasons. According to Lombardi, "99 percent" of clubs do it that way.
The owner of Lacy Street Cabaret in Lincoln Heights defended the contracting system. "I don't think the government should dictate what a job is worth," said Kevin Wasko. "As independent contractors, the harder they work, the more money they make. The [less] they work, the less they get paid. It's based on performance, so it's more beneficial . . . There's a higher quality of service."
But the Jet Strip, in the Lennox area, has gone the other way. "For their own protection, dancers should be classified as employees," said manager James Wallace. "If they get injured or laid off or pregnant, they're entitled to unemployment or workers'-comp insurance or disability. It also makes them tax-paying residents and takes them off the underground economy."