PORTLAND, Ore. - (Update with AP story, details)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Beaverton strip club has agreed to pay $1.25 million to a dancer it employed when she was 13 years old.
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian made the announcement Tuesday, saying it's the largest settlement the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has ever secured for an individual worker.
A case involving a second underage minor employed by Stars Cabaret in Beaverton remains pending.
The 13-year-old girl was hired in 2012 to dance nude for customers and have sex with them in a back room. Former Stars Cabaret manager Steven Toth was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the prostitution.
Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries news release:
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced Tuesday a major civil rights settlement with Stars Cabaret that will direct $1.25 million to a then 13-year old minor who suffered unlawful discrimination, harassment and abuse at the Beaverton club.
The agreement represents the largest settlement amount ever secured by the agency for an individual worker. The case regarding a second underage minor employed by Stars remains pending. The agency said it anticipates issuing a Final Order in that case before Labor Day.
The agency initiated an investigation after Avakian filed a complaint in 2015 alleging civil rights violations against two underage employees working as adult entertainers. Following a thorough investigation of Stars’ operations, the agency brought formal charges of unlawful discrimination and harassment of minors ages 13 and 15 working at the club.
“Our agency is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all Oregonians,” Avakian said. “Today’s settlement follows an aggressive effort spanning thousands of hours of investigation and prosecution to ensure justice for this aggrieved person. It also sends a strong message that the most vulnerable among us will still receive the same protections and access to justice as everyone else.”
Oregon law empowers the labor commissioner to file a complaint on behalf of the people of Oregon when the commissioner has reason to believe that an unlawful practice, such as employment discrimination based on sex or national origin, has occurred.
The commissioner’s complaint filed against Stars is the seventh filed by Avakian. A 2014 settlement with Daimler Trucks North America directed $2.4 million to six employees alleging harassment and unlawful discrimination.
The Civil Rights Division conducted an extensive investigation across Stars’ operations, interviewing current and former staff, owners, managers and other third parties. The agency’s investigation also included a look at Stars’ ownership structure across the multiple corporate entities that were eventually added to the complaint.
Any worker who believes that they are being harassed or retaliated at work can start the civil rights complaint process by contact the Civil Rights Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 971-673-0764. BOLI’s live entertainment hotline at 1-844-304-2654 also can provide workers information about retaliation, sex discrimination, harassment, unlawful wage practices and a host of other workplace protections. Callers to the toll-free hotline may request confidentiality.
Visit www.oregon.gov/BOLI for more information about all of BOLI’s work to protect employment rights, advance employment opportunities, and protect access to housing and public accommodations free from discrimination.