By Melissa Garcia

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Attorneys in Denver have filed a national lawsuit against a chain of strip clubs.

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The class action suit accuses PT’s Show Club, PT’s All Nude, Diamond Cabaret, La Boheme and The Penthouse Club of exploiting their exotic dancers.

The 26-page lawsuit complaint filed in district court Friday involves hundreds of dancers in 20 strip clubs across eight states.

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VCG Holding Corp., the lawsuit defendant, operates all five Colorado adult entertainment establishments that are named in the suit.

Mari Newman, the attorney who filed the suit, said that the company’s lack of fair compensation for the dancers’ work is illegal.

“In many cases, dancers are young women, often times single mothers, who are doing their best and are working and working and working and just can’t get ahead,” Newman said. “And these clubs that are very, very well-funded take advantage of the dancers because they know they can.”

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Newman said that the company exploits vulnerable women by charging them to work at the clubs, rather than paying them to work there.

The suit alleges that at the start of each shift, dancers are required to pay a stage fee, then additional fines for each dance they perform — more fees for VIP rooms — and that the dancers are even charged for the water they drink while on the job.

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On top of that, dancers have to turn over part of their tips to other workers, according to Newman.

“Not only are the clubs getting away with not paying the dancers, they’re then using the dancer’s own tips to pay the DJs and the bouncers,” Newman said. “The entire model is so profoundly unfair to the dancers. It’s really mind-blowing.”

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews attorney Mari Newman (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia left messages Sunday morning for Troy Lowrie, CEO of VCG Holding Corp., but did not hear back. She also sought comment from local club management, who politely declined.

While the suit is asking for back-pay for all the dancers who attorneys say should have been earning at least an hourly minimum wage, Newman said that the lawsuit’s ultimate goal is to change the way the industry operates.

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Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.