Sometimes, fate smiles upon us. Thus, in my never-ceasing efforts to provide entertaining, yet informative, updates on Alabama employment law, I was pleased to see the reported decision of Goodykoontz v. Diamond’s Gentleman’s Club, No. 15-0553-WS-B, 2016 WL 2743530 (May 10, 2016). Goodykoontz discusses the perils of age discrimination in the gentleman’s entertainment industry.
Ms. Goodykoontz was retained as a dancer at Diamond’s Gentleman’s Club. After starting work, she was asked her age and reported that she was “almost 41.” After a shift, the general manager of the club “invited her not to come back.” When Ms. Goodykoontz inquired further, the general manager said: “You don’t fit the profile I’m wanting here.” When Ms. Goodykoontz asked why, he “snarled”: “Because YOU’RE TOO OLD!!!!”
Diamond’s Gentleman’s Club filed a motion to dismiss Ms. Goodykoontz’s complaint, but that motion was denied. The club argued that it did not employ the sufficient number of employees to be subject to liability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and that Ms. Goodykoontz was an independent contractor instead of an employee. Nevertheless, the federal judge reviewing the motion found sufficient allegations in the complaint to allow the action to proceed.
Goodykoontz is still in the early stages of litigation. If the club can demonstrate that it does not employ 20 employees, or if it can prove that Ms. Goodykoontz was an independent contractor, it will probably win the case at summary judgment. Nevertheless, if the club fails on those issues, the statements by the general manager are probably direct evidence of age discrimination that will allow the case to proceed to trial.