Washington State Passes ‘Strippers’ Bill of Rights,’ A Win for Adult Worker Rights

Washington state recently made history by enacting a comprehensive set of protections for adult entertainment workers hailed as “the strippers’ bill of rights.” Here’s the full story.

A Landmark Legislation for Adult Industry Workers

The Strippers’ Bill of Rights is a landmark piece of legislation. It contains the most extensive protections for workers in the adult industry of any legislation nationwide and should help ensure worker’s safety and constitutional rights.

In a press release, Seattle Senator Rebecca Saldaña – who sponsored the bill – emphasized that “Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force.” 

Grassroots Activism

The new legislation was born from the hard work of Strippers Are Workers, an activist group that has been pushing hard for these changes since 2018. Adult performers came to them in 2018, complaining that every club in Washington has different regulations and wanted a standard across the state. 

These workers also complained about the lack of security and safety, as well as exploitative practices by managers, who often blacklisted dancers after they raised complaints.

Key Components of the Strippers’ Bill of Rights

The law now requires workplaces to provide all employees with training on sexual harassment prevention and conflict de-escalation. It also mandates training to help workers spot and prevent human trafficking, as well as first-aid training and training on conflict de-escalation. 

The new legislation also forces workplaces to employ security personnel, create secure dressing rooms for their staff, and make panic buttons in rooms where workers are left alone with customers a legal requirement – to protect entertainers in potentially vulnerable situations.

Senator Saldaña stated, “If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.”

To address the financial aspects of the industry, the legislation imposes a cap on the fees that club owners can charge performers. 

Independent Contractor Concerns

Strippers are typically employed as “independent contractors” by clubs, which has been a cause for concern by advocate groups and workers as clubs can easily extort them. 

The new legislation caps the amount a club can take from a dancer at $150 per night or 30% of their takings, whichever is lower.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is tasked with developing guidelines to implement these workplace safety standards by early next year.

Governor’s Seal of Approval

Governor Jay Inslee approved the Stripper’s Bill of Rights, which included a provision enabling these establishments to serve alcohol, a move supported by Strippers Are Workers.

Club owners were initially worried they might have to close their businesses rather than bring their clubs up to code due to the financial implications of hiring extra staff, refitting their clubs, and hosting extra training. Neither workers nor managers wanted this outcome

“We don’t want clubs to shut down now or in the future, because that will just put everyone out of work and then put them in even riskier or more dire situations,” the campaign manager for Strippers Are Workers said.

Now, however, they can rest easy as the liquor licenses open a new stream of revenue to cover the most they’ll have to spend.

Leading the Way in Worker Protection

This bill of rights has placed Washington as the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to adult entertainment workers. Only one other state has extra protections in place for strippers – Illinois – and its legislation is nowhere near as comprehensive as Washington’s. Illinois requires strip clubs to have written sexual harassment policies in place.

Over the years, there have been attempts to implement similar legislation in other states. There were unionization efforts in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, as well as a pivotal Nevada Supreme Court ruling in favor of strippers’ employment rights. 

This has granted strippers some legal protections and entitled them to minimum wage pay, but so far, none have laid out such extensive protections as Washington’s stripper’s bill of rights.

The post Washington Passes ‘Strippers’ Bill of Rights,’ A Win for Adult Worker Rights first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / EQRoy.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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