Ex-strippers sue Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club, alleging prostitution ring that offered ‘cocaine and condoms’

Hosts at a popular Manhattan strip joint were nothing more than pimps who forced the club’s exotic dancers into a prostitution ring while cheating them out of wages and punishing them for complaining, according to a new $25 million lawsuit.

Two former dancers, Margaret O’Sullivan and Stephanie Krauel, say in a complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that their bosses at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club were more like brothel managers who coerced strippers to perform sex acts on patrons while they ignored sexual and physical assaults, illegal drug use and underage drinking.

“Fueled by greed and the unseemly promise of making ‘every man’s fantasies come true,’ Sapphire New York created and sustained a toxic work environment, where Sapphire dancers were coerced into servicing patrons, with any sexual act a customer desired, for a price,” the lawsuit filed by lawyer Jon Norinsberg reads.

“And because greed inevitably leads to more deplorable behavior, the prostitution ring defendants created was a catalyst for a vast array of other unlawful acts.”

The party atmosphere, the flashing lights and the loud music hid a work environment that was hostile and toxic, the lawsuit states.

Dancers who complained about the conditions were subjected to retaliation that resulted in lost wages and harassment, according to court documents. The club and its owners committed wage violations by classifying workers as independent contractors and cheated dancers by using pay-to-play policies, kickback schemes and theft of tips, the lawsuit said.

Dancers who refused to participate in prostitution saw their earnings drop from approximately $2,000 a night to a couple hundred dollars, according to the lawsuit that seeks class action status.

“Defendants created and perpetuated a work culture where a customer’s violent behavior was actually tolerated,” the lawsuit said. “In doing so, the defendants sent the message that Sapphire’s singular agenda was at all times to maximize profits, irrespective of the law, the safety of defendants’ dancers or basic human decency.”

Club owners or managers could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, managers at the W. 39th St. club controlled private rooms at the club, where dancers generally make more money. There, customers were allegedly advised they could get “anything [they] wanted,” often without the dancers’ knowledge or consent.

Sometimes, the extra service included “cocaine and condoms,” the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs are seeking $10 million for compensatory damages related to emotional, physical and professional trauma, and $15 million in punitive damages.

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