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Date: 05-24-2023

Case Style:

Chanel E.M. Nicholson v. W.L. York, Inc. d/b/a Cover Girls, et al.

Case Number: 3:21-CV-2624

Judge: Andrew S. Hanen

Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Harris County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Casey T. Wallace

Description: Houston, Texas civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued defendants claiming that she was discriminated against because of her race.

This case primarily involves alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 based on racial discrimination. Plaintiff is African American and was a dancer who performed at adult entertainment clubs Centerfolds, Splendor, Cover Girls for varying periods of time between September 2013 and November 2017.

At all three clubs, Plaintiff signed a “Licensing and Access Agreement” (“LAA”).[1] These agreements established, among other things, that (1) Plaintiff was an independent contractor, (2) each side could terminate the relationship at will, (3) each club would grant access to its premises for the dancer to perform subject to other policies within the agreement, and (4) Plaintiff was permitted to set her own hours and shifts.

Plaintiff began dancing at Centerfolds in August 2013. In late September 2014, Plaintiff contends she was “barred” from Centerfolds. After Centerfolds “barred” her, Plaintiff began dancing at Splendor in November 2014. While Plaintiff was a dancer at Splendor, she alleges that she was turned away from club staff who stated, among other claims, that “too many Black girls” were working. Although Plaintiff did not specify when she left Splendor, she pleaded that it was before she began working at Cover Girls in November 2016 and her departure was apparently triggered when Splendor “barred” her from performing after she refused to pay the club a fine.

In November of 2016, Plaintiff began dancing at Cover Girls after entering into an LAA with that club. While at Cover Girls, Plaintiff alleges that she was frequently turned away from performing when she showed up to work, similar to her experience at Splendor. In late November 2017, Plaintiff claims she arrived to dance at Cover Girls and was “barred” after being informed that there were “too many Black girls” working already.

Subsequently, Plaintiff did not dance for several years because she became pregnant. In August 2021, Plaintiff went to Splendor in hopes of “reviv[ing] her career as a dancer” but Splendor informed Plaintiff that they were not hiring.

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on August 12, 2021, asserting various claims for unlawful and intentional racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against Centerfolds, Splendor, Cover Girls, and individuals Ali Davari and Hassan Davari, who allegedly owned the clubs. After amending her complaint several times, Plaintiffs Third Amended Complaint asserted causes of action for breach of contract and discrimination under § 1981. In response to Plaintiffs Third Amended Complaint, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 48).

This Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion (Doc. No. 51). In that Order, the Court dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims as they pertained to Centerfolds, Ali Davari, and Hassan Davari for failure to state a claim and because her § 1981 claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. (Id.). Of Plaintiffs remaining claims, the Court found that Plaintiff plausibly alleged: (1) a § 1981 claim against Cover Girls from when she was “barred” from the club in November 2017, (2) a breach of contract claim against Cover Girls from November 2017, and (3) a § 1981 failure to hire claim against Splendor from 2021. (Id. at 21).

Defendants now move for summary judgment on Plaintiff s three remaining claims that survived their Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 61). Specifically, Defendants contend that all three of Plaintiffs claims are time barred or fail on the merits. (Id.). Plaintiff responded in opposition (Doc. No. 62) and Defendants replied (Doc. No. 64).

Outcome: The Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

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