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Black dancers bring discrimination lawsuit against strip club

JACKSON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a federal lawsuit against a Mississippi strip club that it says discriminated against black dancers.

The lawsuit alleges that Danny’s Cabaret in Jackson forced black dancers to work less lucrative shifts than whites, subjected them to arbitrary fees and fines and excluded them from advertisements promoting the company.

Danny’s, which bills itself as the largest adult entertainment club in Mississippi and the oldest such chain in the state, had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Jackson on behalf of Sherida Edwards and three unnamed women the EEOC said faced similar discrimination They are considered class members to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also said Danny’s retaliated against the four women one of them filed a complaint with the EEOC in April 2011, allegedly by reducing their work hours and subjecting them to fines and disrespect.

Danny’s pressured Edwards to withdraw her EEOC complaint, cut her hours and forced her to compete for dancing slots, the lawsuit said. The company also maintained schedules only for black women and forced one of them to compete with Edwards for a dancing slot on the “Black shift,” the lawsuit said.

The working conditions for Edwards became so intolerable that she was “constructively discharged” — in effect, forced to quit — on July 4, 2011, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and punitive damages and for the women to be reinstated to the jobs they had before the complaint was filed.

“Discrimination against American employees is unlawful, no matter what kind of business it is. The EEOC will not leave employees unprotected against illegal misconduct because of the nature of their jobs,” Delner Franklin-Thomas, an EEOC district director in Birmingham, Ala., said in a news release.

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