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Are Exotic Dancers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

A South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision to deny benefits to an exotic dancer injured in South Carolina.

The Incident and Injuriesworkers' compensation

According to the WIS, the exotic dancer received injuries resulting from gunfire after a fight broke out in a Two Notch Road strip club in 2008.

The dancer, LeAndra Lewis, received injuries from a stray bullet while dancing at the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 on June 23, 2008. The dancer suffered serious injuries including injuries to her intestines, liver, pancreas, kidney and uterus. Surgeons had to remove one of her kidneys. Doctors also informed Lewis that she may never be able to have children because of the injuries she suffered to her uterus.

The injuries also left Lewis with a tremendous amount of scarring making her unable to continue her job as an exotic dancer.

The Denial

Due to her inability to work, Lewis filed for a claim workers’ compensation benefits. Lewis states she frequently danced at clubs in both North and South Carolina and often traveled from club to club depending upon the actors and rappers appearing there each night.

Because the Boom Boom Room did not have insurance, the South Carolina Uninsured Employer’s Fund defended the case.

Lewis testified during the workers’ compensation hearing that she typically made $250-$350 a night dancing at the clubs. She states she danced 5 to 6 nights a week leaving her with a total yearly income of approximately $82,500.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission denied Lewis’ claim for benefits on the basis that she was not an employee of the club. Lewis appealed the decision.

The Appeal

In her appeal, Lewis’ lawyers argued the club’s managers controlled her from the minute she entered the facility making her an employee of the club. Lewis states the club told her when to dance, what music she must dance to, and required her to pay a “tip out” fee each night.

She further states the nature of her relationship with the business was that of an employment relationship because the club furnished equipment for her use including a stage, poles and private rooms for V.I.P. dances.

Lewis states the club also provided dancers with cleaning solution, towels, bins used to collect money, and a locker for their personal belongings.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision to deny Lewis any benefits. The Court of Appeals came to their decision based upon the fact that Lewis did not receive an invitation to dance at the Boom Boom Room that night and was able to leave whenever she pleased. The Court of Appeals concluded that Lewis and the club did not have an employment relationship.

Other factors influencing the Court’s decision included the fact that the club did not tell Lewis how to dance and did not exert complete control over her. The Court classified Lewis as an independent contractor and therefore not entitled to benefits.

South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Laws

How well do you know South Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws?

Do you know employers who employ four or more employees, including part time employees, are required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance to cover you in case you receive an injury on the job?

In South Carolina, if you receive an injury on the job you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. To receive these benefits you must inform your employer within 90 days of the date you sustained the injury.

Oftentimes, the employer or Workers’ Compensation Commission may deny the claim for reasons including:

  • The worker being intoxicated or using illegal drugs at the time of the incident
  • Injuries being self-inflicted
  • The employee sustaining the injury during an illegal act
  • The employee sustaining the injury while not on the job
  • Conduct by the employee that caused the accident being in violation of company policy

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm can assist you in the event of a denial either from your employer or from the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

In the event of a denial of benefits from your employer, the Strom Law Firm can assist you in requesting a hearing with Workers’ Compensation Commission. We will assist you in preparing for the hearing and stand by your side at the hearing.

If you are not satisfied with the Commission’s decision, our South Carolina Workers’ Compensation lawyers can assist you in filing an appeal. Six new commissioners will then review your case. If the commission again issues a decision you feel is unfavorable, the lawyers at the Strom Law Firm will file an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas and eventually the State Appellate Court.

If you sustained injuries while working and received a denial of benefits, contact the Strom Law Firm today. We understand what is at stake.  We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Fill out a web form or call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800



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