A former dancer for Spearmint Rhino is suing the strip club chain, alleging she was forced to resign in 2019 after being regularly sexually assaulted and drugged by patrons whose actions were not discouraged by a profit-driven management.
“The Spearmint Rhino group of gentlemen’s clubs are home to anything but gentlemen,” states the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought by a woman identified only as Jane Doe. “Instead, the clubs are carefully designed to coerce dancers into performing illegal sex acts referred to as `extras’ for patrons. These same policies create an environment where patrons feel that they can assault women like plaintiff with impunity.”
The lawsuit allegations include sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; aiding and abetting sexual battery and gender violence and civil rights violations.
Doe seeks unspecified damages in the suit filed Wednesday. A Spearmint Rhino representative could not be immediately reached.
Spearmint Rhino’s management knows that dancers are regularly assaulted at their clubs, but they post no signs telling patrons not to touch the dancers or station bouncers in areas where assaults are likely, the suit states.
“To the contrary, defendants do everything that they can to encourage an atmosphere where any sexual act a patron wants is tolerated and dancers are too traumatized to resist or to speak up about the abuse, all to generate more profit,” according to the suit.
Spearmint Rhino hires financially and emotionally vulnerable women and structures their pay so that dancers feel compelled to provide “extras” to patrons and to tolerate assault … from patrons,” the suit states.
Doe did not perform “extras” for patrons, but she was consistently assaulted by customers, according to the suit. She was sexually assaulted in various ways during every shift in her first two weeks working at the Spearmint Rhino’s Blue Zebra club, the suit states.
Doe later transferred to the Spearmint Rhino club in Van Nuys, considered a more “high-class” location, but she found that working there and later in Oxnard there was merely a “wealthier class of assaulters,” many of whom drugged her between April 2018 and her August 2019 resignation, the suit states.
“Defendants were aware of many of the specific assaults — some were witnessed by bouncers, others occurred in areas with video cameras and some were reported by plaintiff,” the suit states. “Nonetheless, defendants did nothing to protect her.”
Doe has lost income, and future security and experienced “severe embarrassment, humiliation and mental and emotional distress and discomfort,” her suit states.