Washington governor signs 'strippers' bill of rights' into law

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed the so-called strippers’ bill of rights into law Tuesday, the most comprehensive legal protections for the adult entertainment industry in the nation.

Proponents described the measure as critical for providing the often-overlooked industry with adequate worker protections.

“Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force,” bill sponsor state Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D) said in a statement. “If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.” 

The law requires establishments to hold trainings to prevent sexual harassment, prevent human trafficking and train in conflict de-escalation. It also increases security requirements at clubs and for dressing rooms, including locks and panic buttons.

The bill additionally limits the fees that establishments can charge dancers, who usually work as independent contractors. The fees are capped at $150 or 30 percent of a dancer’s income a night, whichever is less.

“It is crucial that we confront the stigma surrounding adult entertainment and recognize the humanity of those involved in the industry,” Saldaña said. 

Adult entertainment businesses are also allowed to obtain liquor licenses in Washington as a result of the law.

The effort was driven by advocacy organization Strippers Are Workers, which fought for six years for the measure to be passed. The group reported a wide regulation gap among the 11 adult entertainment establishments around the state and argued for a common standard.

Workers complained to the organization about lax security, unsafe environments and the potential to be blacklisted if they complained of harassment to managers, The Associated Press reported.

Illinois is the only other state to add protections for adult entertainment workers, passing a similar measure in 2019.

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