As if Springfield strip clubs didn’t have enough problems with things like six people getting shot, one fatally, back in May — the club was open again by noon the next day, by the way.

Now it appears the clubs may not be paying their girls and other, uh, skills players, enough money.

According to the Springfield Republican, strippers, bartenders, and DJ’s at five area strip clubs are suing the owning Santaniello family, alleging unfair wages, lack of benefits and forced kickbacks of $40 to $100 per shift.

The plaintiffs are suing the Mardi Gras, Lace, Fifth Alarm and Center Stage clubs, all in Springfield, and Anthony’s Dance Club in South Hadley alleging that they were full-time employees but were paid as independent contractors and denied labor benefits.

In January 2009, a man was shot dead at the Mardi Gras club. Club 418, owned by a different company, is about a block away from Mardi Gras. It was the site of the sextuple shooting in May.

Tod A. Cochran, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told The Republican that dancers were expected to pay between kickbacks every shift to the owners. He estimated that hundreds of dancers perform at all five clubs.

"That’s not legal under any circumstances," Cochran told the paper. "They called it a tip-out fee and it was higher for the better shifts.”

"The company vigorously denies both the factual allegations and the legal claims and will respond in court in due course," attorney Barry Miller, of Boston, told The Republican.

This case has precedent. In August, a judge ruled that 70 strippers who worked at a Chelsea strip club were entitled to recover thousands of dollars in damages in a class-action lawsuit because their employer misclassified them as "independent contractors,” the Boston Globe reported.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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