James v. RPS Holdings, LLC

  • Court: North Carolina State, District Court
  • Case Number:  1:20cv134
  • Filed: February 11, 2020
  • Judges: Patrick Auld
  • Case Type: Fair Labor Standards Act (710)
  • Cause: Fair Labor Standards Act

Parties Involved

  • Plaintiff(s):Siobhan James
  • Counsel for Plaintiff: Charlotte C. Smith | Hannah Simmons | Matthew Marlowe | Matthew D. Wright | Gilda A. Hernandez | Gregg Cohen Greenberg | Robert W.T. Tucci


  • Defendant(s):RPS Holdings, LLC
  • Counsel for Defendants:Luke C. Lirot | William M. Boyer


Verdict Information

  • Verdict Date: May 17, 2024
  • Total damages awarded to Plaintiff(s):$0

 About the Case


A group of exotic dancers filed a wage and hour lawsuit against Capital Cabaret Gentlemen’s Club in Morrisville, North Carolina, alleging that the club misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees, thereby violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA). The dancers claimed employment by the club, necessitating at least 7-hour shifts, often 5-6 shifts per week. Plaintiff James, for instance, typically worked Tuesday through Saturday until 2 am or later on weeknights, and until 4 am or later on weekends, sometimes even on Sundays.

The dancers were required to pay $35 “house fees” per shift, with late fees adding $15 per hour. Additionally, they were obligated to “tip out” 10% or more of their total tips to managers, bartenders, DJs, valets, and other club employees. Failure to tip out could lead to adverse actions, such as fewer customer interactions and a lack of protection from abusive customers. On average, dancers tipped out $75-$150 or more per shift.

Despite working between 35 and 48 hours per week, with an average of 42 hours, the dancers alleged that the club failed to compensate them for their work duties. The lawsuit argued that the club misclassified the dancers as independent contractors. By doing so, the club neglected to pay minimum wage and overtime as mandated by law. This, according to the lawsuit, constituted a violation of the FLSA and NCWHA.

The lawsuit also alleged that a manager named Tim Koller verbally and physically assaulted Plaintiff James in January 2018 while she was working. Tim allegedly yelled racial slurs at James and slammed her to the ground. He then choked her and forcibly threw her out of the club while she was essentially naked. This incident occurred after she attempted to report his actions.

James and others reportedly complained about Tim’s threatening behavior, but the club ignored the complaints and took no action against him. Following the assault, the club claimed security cameras were not operational.


As a direct consequence of the vicious assault and battery committed by manager Tim Koller, Plaintiff James sustained significant physical injuries. These injuries required emergency medical treatment at the hospital. The attack’s violent nature, including Tim slamming James to the ground multiple times, choking her by pressing her neck against the floor and pavement, and forcibly throwing her out of the club while she was essentially naked, left James battered and bruised.

Beyond the physical injuries, the traumatic experience had a lasting psychological impact on James. Her manager verbally accosted her with vile racial slurs in the presence of customers. This was followed by his relentless physical assaults. She remains deeply traumatized, plagued by emotional and mental anguish. James suffers from frequent headaches, insomnia, and nightmares directly linked to reliving the fear and terror of that night. The assault and hostile workplace environment created by Tim’s conduct have induced depression and anxiety in James.

The lawsuit alleged that Tim’s actions, including assaulting, battering, and verbally abusing James with racial slurs, as well as terminating her employment that night, constituted the intentional infliction of emotional distress upon her. Additionally, the club was accused of negligently inflicting emotional distress by permitting such an abusive and hostile workplace. Furthermore, James’s wrongful termination, executed in retaliation for her attempts to report Tim’s misconduct, violated clear public policies against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.


The dancers sought relief under the FLSA and NCWHA, including unpaid minimum wages, overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Plaintiff James also sought damages for assault, battery, emotional distress, wrongful termination, and punitive damages for the club’s malicious and reckless conduct. The lawsuit highlighted issues of wage theft, worker misclassification, workplace violence, racial harassment, and retaliation in the exotic dancing industry.

Jury Verdict

The jury found that the Defendant proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the Plaintiff and the Defendant had entered into an enforceable written agreement. This agreement required them to arbitrate the claims the Plaintiff  had made against the Defendant in this case.

Court Documents: Available upon Request