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Stripping is Here to Stay_ Washington State’s Attempt to Make it Safer.pdf (69.57 kB)

Stripping is Here to Stay: Washington State’s Attempt to Make it Safer

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posted on 2024-05-17, 15:04 authored by Eben Beh

On March 25, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington signed State Bill 6105 (SB6105), dubbed the strippers’ bill of rights. SB6105 added various protections for club performers, including security on-site, safe practice training, and earning protections. The bill would also allow clubs to obtain liquor licenses for the first time, allowing them to make revenue to offset the costs of the additional safety measures [1]. 

Naked dancing as entertainment has had a tumultuous legal history. In Barnes v. Glen Theatre Inc (1991), the Supreme Court held that states have the right to restrict expressive speech in the interest of maintaining public decency and morality. In this case, that meant that all performers had to wear at least pasties and a G-string [2]. The case represented the continued societal discourse over the presence of sexually explicit content. However, in recent years, court cases around nude performers have focused on their classification as employees rather than the legality of their profession. 

One such case is Manasco v. Best in Town, Inc. (2023). In this case, dancers at a club named the Furnace were being treated as independent contractors, but their business was acting in a way that should have had them classified as employees. This is largely due to the Furnaces control over the plaintiffs work schedule and other factors [3]. The difference between employees and independent contractors can be significant. Contractors are not protected by the same labor and employment laws as registered employees. On the other hand, contractors do not have their income withheld by their employer for taxes, and have greater flexibility over their work schedule.

Now that the legal debate over the allowing of explicit dancing seems settled, governments have turned their attention to how to regulate it. All professions have regulations centered around them, designed to protect employees and employers. SB6105 attempts to create those safety regulations, especially since sexually explicit work opens up performers to various risks like sexual harassment, abuse, or even human trafficking [4].  

The bill initiates the creation of training for performers that will educate them about their rights and responsibilities, the differences between being an employee or independent contractor, the monetary functioning of the profession, how to report injuries or harassment, the risks of human trafficking , and resources available for them. In addition, other non-dancer employees must receive training on the proper way to interact with performers, first aid, and de-escalation [5]. Making sure that the people employed at clubs know proper procedures and what their responsibilities are is crucial to keeping environments safe for everyone involved. In addition, SB6105 mandates keypad locks on the doors to performers' dressing rooms to prevent unauthorized access, and the ejection of customers who violate club policy, are intoxicated, or have committed any other illegal behavior [6]. Establishments must ensure that patrons, performers, and employees follow safety procedures and training that are designed to prevent risks that stripping and similar professions have.

If adult entertainment is going to be an industry that has a permanent place in American society, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that it is a safe one, even if some officials question its morality.




[1] Associated Press, Strippers’ bill of rights bill signed into law in Washington state, (Mar. 25, 2024 11:02 PM), https://apnews.com/article/strippers-bill-of-rights-washington-dancers-dce565eec39813dc1f474099f4e6b5d9. 

[2] Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. (90-26), 501 U.S. 560 (1991).

[3] Manasco v. Best in Town, Inc., No. 2:21-cv-00381-JHE (2023).

[4] Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale, Jacqueline Lewis, Jocalyn P. Clark, Jennifer Zubick, Shelley Young, Exotic Dancing and Health, 31 Women and Health, 87, 108, (2000).

[5] S.B. 6105, 68th Legislature, (Wa. 2024).

[6] Id.

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