Ann Maher Mar. 26, 2014, 4:58pm

The owner of three local strip clubs is seeking to dismiss or at least arbitrate a complaint brought by strippers who claim they are due unpaid wages.

VCG Holding Corp., which owns PT’s Brooklyn, PT’s Centreville and PT’s Sports, on March 21 answered a class action suit filed by Amanda Sheer and Brandy Apple in January in federal court in East St. Louis. The women claim they have been misclassified as independent contractors rather than as employees and seek to represent a class of strippers who worked at the clubs between Jan. 18, 2004 through Jan. 17, 2011.

VCG says it wants the class and collective allegations dismissed with prejudice as the parties’ agreement contains an “unambiguous” class and collective action waiver. Alternatively, VCG would like the matter taken to arbitration, saying the plaintiffs are contractually bound to arbitrate the issues raised in their complaint.

“Plaintiffs cannot bring their claims in this or any other court (nor can they assert any class or collective allegations) because they signed binding arbitration agreements containing class- and collective-action waivers,” wrote VCG attorney Carrie Kinsella of Jackson Lewis in St. Louis. “Recent Supreme Court and other authority make clear that Plaintiffs’ arbitration agreements and class- and collective-action waivers are valid and fully enforceable.”

VCG  is a Colorado corporation with its principal place of business located in Colorado, according to the complaint. The company’s registered agent is Michael L. Ocello and its chief executive officer is Troy H. Lowrie.

The defendant also is seeking to have its costs and fees paid.

“They certainly should have been aware that these agreements contain arbitration clauses and class waivers, yet they chose to bring these claims in court,” Kinsella wrote. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs should be compelled to pay Defendants’ costs and fees associated with the filing of this motion.”

Among other things, Apple and Sheer claim that the owner of PT’s violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Illinois Minimum Wage Act and other labor laws and threatened retaliation against any dancer who asserted her statutory right to be recognized as an employee.

They are represented by St. Louis attorney Neil Smith of the Smith Law Firm.

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