By Amanda Gambill
A class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nashville continued Wednesday with bartender-dancers accusing Coyote Ugly Saloon Development Corporation, Coyote Ugly Saloon Nashville and an executive of denying them overtime pay.
The lawsuit, involving 37 current and former employees of Coyote Ugly nationwide and 10 former employees of the Coyote Ugly Saloon in Nashville, accuses the themed bars of failing to pay them for work performed off-the-clock. The lawsuit also accuses CUSDC of having an illegal tip pool because security guards were allowed to take five percent from gross tip receipts.
The defense argues that the security guards played an important role in the overall atmosphere of the bars, and that they were also responsible for assisting customers and the bartenders, sometimes even filling the role as “barback” to change beer kegs, stock bars and clean counters. In the instances that the guards did perform barback duties, they actually took 10 percent from the overall tips.
The activities at Coyote Ugly saloons involve scantily-clad female bartenders dancing on the 100-foot-long bar and allowing clientele to drink shots of alcohol from their bodies. The female patrons are encouraged to do likewise.
Misty Blu Stewart, a former bartender-dancer from Nashville who initiated the suit, and Sarah Stone, a former bartender-dancer of the Oklahoma City Coyote Ugly, are seeking damages for “retaliation” that occurred because of their involvement in the suit.
Stewart testified Wednesday that she was “ashamed” and “extremely embarrassed” when Liliana Lovell, CEO of CUSDC, wrote a blog post shortly after learning about the lawsuit on her blog, “Lil Spill,” that appears on Coyote Ugly’s website and referred to Stewart in a derogatory fashion, using vulgar words and calling her names.
Lovell testified Wenesday that she was upset when she wrote the post because this was “the third time” that Stewart had tried to bring legal action against Coyote Ugly.
But Stewart’s name does not appear in the blog post.
Stone also testified Wednesday that she quit her job because then regional manager Daniel Huckaby posted a Facebook status when he was “three feet away” from her that asked God to keep him from “killing the girl” trying to sue him.
Huckaby, director of operations for CUSDC, testified Wednesday that he was intoxicated on the night of the Facebook post.
“I honestly don’t remember it at all,” he said.
CUSDC owns and operates Coyote Ugly Saloons in at least Tennessee, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Florida.