North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Denied to Dancer Shot at Strip Club

September 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s a rather heartbreaking North and South Carolina workers’ compensation case.

LeAndra Lewis, a 19-year-old exotic dancer, was hit by stray gunfire during a gun battle at Two Notch Road strip club on June 23, 2008. The bullets injured a number of her internal organs, forcing her to have a kidney removed, and permanently damaging her uterus so badly that doctors no long believe she can have children. In addition, the gunfire scarring has made it impossible for her to get work as an exotic dancer.

At the age of 19, she was earning over $80,000 a year, dancing 5 or 6 nights every week. Lewis filed a workers’ compensation claim against the strip club, but both an appellate panel and a commissioner denied her claim because she was not technically an employee. Her appeal was also denied, because the club never paid her money (she only earned money from tips). Plus, she was not told how to dance. In short, she was considered to be an independent contractor, not an employee, and thus she could not collect per the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Lewis’ experience sadly “rhymes” with the experiences of many people who seek workers’ compensation in North Carolina, South Carolina, and elsewhere. The line between employee and independent contractor can be hard to discern, in certain cases. You might have been under the impression that you were an employee – and protected as one – when in fact you lacked such protection. Or your employer might deny responsibility to get out of paying workers’ compensation, when in fact you should by law be entitled to benefits.

Unpacking your rights and responsibilities under the law is not something you should try to do by yourself! The experienced workers’ compensation law professionals at DeMayo Law can walk you through your options and help you understand what you might be able to do to collect benefits. They can also help you make smarter decisions going forward with respect to your medical care, finances, and career options.

You’ve been through the ringer. Now, you need straight talk and a strategic, customized plan to get to where you want to be, efficiently, and with as little drama as possible.