Exotic Dancer Sues Florida over Ban on Under-21 Adult Entertainment Workers

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In the neon-lit city of Tallahassee, Florida, a spirited skirmish over constitutional rights and state legislation has emerged in an unexpected arena — a gentlemans’ club. Serenity Michelle Bushey, a 19-year-old exotic dancer and her employers have thrown down the gauntlet in a legal battle against Florida’s attorney general and two local prosecutors. The bone of contention is a freshly minted state law that bars adult entertainment venues from hiring employees under the age of 21.

Bushey alleges in her lawsuit that the new legislation has cost her employment at Cafe Risque, an adult entertainment establishment nestled within the Gainesville area. The law’s intended purpose, as per the state’s lawmakers, was to stem the tide of human trafficking. However, Bushey, along with the club, argue that this law interferes with her constitutional rights.

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This lawsuit has been officiated in Tallahassee’s federal court. Apart from Bushey, the club’s owner and two adult industry entities from Jacksonville have also added their voices to this legal chorus. They seek a permanent injunction that would bar the law’s enforcement, arguing that it transgresses their First Amendment right guaranteeing freedom of speech and their Fourteenth Amendment right promising equal protection.

In addition to Bushey, at least eight other performers, all within the narrow age window of 18 to 20 years old, have found themselves jobless due to the new regulation. These young performers and their employers maintain that they have been unfairly targeted by this legislation.

As per the wording of the lawsuit: “As with similar performers around the state, Bushey earned her living through her art while providing entertainment for the benefit and enjoyment of her audience. Plaintiffs have a clear legal right to engage in protected speech of this nature.”

To amplify the issue further, the law forbids venues from employing staff over the age of 18 but under 21 in roles such as cook, DJ, waitress, and security guard. It even extends to prohibiting the hiring of this age group via third-party contractors tasked with miscellaneous jobs—one might think of air-conditioning repairs or carpentry.

Responding for the Office of the Attorney General, communications director Kylie Mason asserted on Tuesday that, while the lawsuit had not been officially lodged with her office at present, they stand prepared to rigorously defend the new law. This tug-of-war between personal liberties and state regulation has escalated, and as Tallahassee’s courthouse awaits the gavel’s fall, one can only ponder about the ripples this judgment will send through Florida’s adult entertainment industry.