Legislature passes bill to protect adult entertainers, prevent trafficking and assault

OLYMPIA – In recent years, workers in adult entertainment establishments have come forward citing workplace safety and security issues. In the wake of these revelations, Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, collaborated with a coalition of adult entertainers to increase safety conditions at work.

House Bill 1756, which passed the Legislature on Wednesday, puts an end to hazardous workplace policies for adult entertainers.

The legislation requires development of consistent workplace contracts for adult entertainers working in clubs. This includes education of labor rights and sex trafficking prevention, reporting of harassment and abuse, and recording of accusations by the club owners. The bill also requires clubs to install panic buttons in key areas of clubs to prevent assaults on workers.

“The brave workers who have come forward to address issues in their industry have been leading this conversation. They are telling the legislature that things aren’t working for them,” said Orwall. “We must ensure that every worker in our state feels safe and protected across all industries.”

“I support women workers and business owners to have agency to come together to leverage collective power to improve working conditions to better provide for themselves and their families,” stated Senator Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, who sponsored the companion Senate Bill 5724. “The adult entertainers have shared compelling stories and have come together to have their state democracy work to improve their lives. I am honored and inspired to work with them.”

Over the past several years, adult entertainers have become more vocal and organized in improving workplace standards. Some have even made claims that management prevented emergency calls in cases of sexual assault to avoid the attention of law enforcement. Additionally, the industry does not have consistent house fee and tipping policies, the primary way adult entertainers generate income.

“Dancers are workers, and dozens of them have been organizing to address some serious safety and security issues they face at work,” said Rachel Lauter, Executive Director of Working Washington & Fair Work Center, who worked alongside dancers to help craft the legislation. “Working with Representative Orwall and Senator Saldaña, they are helping to not only shape the bill but also the future of their industry.”

The legislation will now go back to the House for concurrence on the Senate amendment.