Stripper sues Florida over new age restrictions for workers at adult entertainment businesses

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Serenity Michelle Bushey claims in the lawsuit that she lost her job at Cafe Risque in the Gainesville area after the law took effect on Monday.

An exotic dancer’s shoe on stage at Scores Gentlemen’s Club, Jan. 27, 2021, in Tampa. Chris O’Meara / AP, File

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A 19-year-old and the club where she worked as a stripper have sued Florida’s attorney general and two local prosecutors to stop enforcement of a new state law prohibiting adult entertainment businesses from employing people who are under 21, claiming it violates their constitutional rights.

Serenity Michelle Bushey claims in the lawsuit that she lost her job at Cafe Risque in the Gainesville area after the law took effect on Monday since she is younger than 21. The purpose of the law was to deter human trafficking, according to Florida lawmakers.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Tallahassee on behalf of Bushey, the owner of Cafe Risque and two adult businesses in Jacksonville. It seeks a permanent injunction stopping the law from being enforced, claiming it violates their First Amendment right to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

Besides Bushey, eight other adult performers who are older than 18 but younger than 21 are unable to work at Cafe Risque because of the new law, the lawsuit said.

“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,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiffs have a clear legal right to engage in protected speech of this nature.”

The new law also prohibits hiring cooks, DJs, waitresses and security guards who are older than 18 but younger than 21, or even use workers in that age group from third-party contractors hired to perform tasks like air-conditioning repairs or carpentry, according to the lawsuit.

Kylie Mason, communications director for the Office of the Attorney General, said Tuesday that the office hadn’t yet been served with the lawsuit but will defend the new law.

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