- Associated Press - Friday, December 20, 2019

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A group of strippers between the ages of 18 and 21 are suing the city of Reno over a new law banning women younger than the legal drinking age from working in strip clubs.

The eight strippers are seeking $15 million in damages for alleged violations of their civil rights, the Reno Gazette Journal first reported Thursday.

The women argue the city’s licensing requirements imposed on female topless dancers and not male dancers are discriminatory.

The lawsuit seeks class action status in U.S. District Court in Reno on behalf of all similarly situated strippers, collectively referred to as “adult interactive cabaret performers.”

It stems from the Reno City Council’s decision in April to enact new restrictions on strip clubs. In addition to banning dancers younger than 21, they include a ban on private booths and require brighter lighting and more video surveillance.

The strippers say in the lawsuit filed last month the city’s new law amounts to a government taking their ability to earn a living. They estimate they’re losing between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.

The lawsuit estimates the loss of revenue from the city’s 100 or so strippers impacted by the ban to be about $15 million over the next three years.

“Plaintiff dancers each have a First Amendment and Equal Protection right to express themselves by performing topless within a properly license Adult Interactive Cabaret in the city of Reno serving alcohol,” the lawsuit said.

“The argument that those under the age of 21 may be more likely to do bad things when exposed to alcohol and the uncovered breast of a female body simultaneously is not supported by the record,” it said.

Reno City Attorney Karl Hall’s office said in a statement provided to the newspaper that the city “looks forward to responding in court.” It said the changes made by the city council were “measured and thoughtful … comport with state and federal law, and mirror similar regulations in place elsewhere in the state of Nevada and across the United States.”

The lawsuit was filed by Reno lawyer Mark Thierman. He also represents the owners of three Reno strip clubs, Kamy Keshmiri and Jamy Keshmiri. They are not part of this lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the Reno City Council violated state law when it passed the new ordinances without considering a business impact statement prepared by staff.

That report was meant to analyze the economic effect of the new ordinances on the business owners. However, the report basically concluded that quantifying that impact was too difficult.

At the time, Councilman Devon Reese said he found the report lacking any solid evidence and worried the city would be at risk of a lawsuit.

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