Fired strippers claim age discrimination

Exotic dancers said they were doing their jobs well but were told strip club wanted younger women

The owner of a Mississauga, Ont., strip club who fired four strippers last summer is facing human rights complaints from two of them who say their firings were the result of age discrimination.

Kimberlee Ouwroulis, 44, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in September, claiming she was fired because of her age. Barbara Sanderson, 45, filed a similar complaint in November. The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits employers from treating employees differently because of their age unless it is a bona fide job requirement.

Ouwroulis worked at the New Locomotion Strip Club for four years and Sanderson for seven months when, in June 2008, club owner John Sit fired them on June 6 and June 13, respectively. Both were shocked, as neither had any problems at work previously. Sanderson said the manager had even written a letter of reference to help her get a mortgage a month before the firing. The letter said she was “an ideal employee with a great future at the club.”

In her complaint, Ouwroulis said she was told her time was up at the Locomotion and the club was going in another direction with younger dancers. Sanderson said she was fired because of comments from customers that she was “old and ugly.”

Ouwroulis is demanding almost $100,000 in damages, claiming she made about $8,000 per month at the Locomotion. Two other dancers who were fired at the same time have been named in her complaint.

“They pulled the rug out from under me,” Sanderson told The Mississauga News. “I was earning my way and given every indication that I was doing my job until they canned me.”

Hearing dates have not yet been set by the tribunal, but the issue of what role age plays in the exotic dancing industry and whether it effects a dancer's ability to do her job will be considered.

Both women have since found work at other strip clubs — Ouwroulis in Toronto and Sanderson in another Mississauga club.

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