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caption: The Washington state capitol in Olympia.
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The Washington state capitol in Olympia.

Exotic dancers ask Washington Legislature for panic buttons

Exotic dancers in Washington state say they need better protection on the job.

Monday, a state senate committee will discuss a bill to do just that.

Under the proposed bill strip clubs would need to provide all dancers with panic buttons. In addition, all dancers would undergo training on how to report abuse and clubs would be required to keep a list of customers accused of harassment.

Dancer Amber Bergstrom testified in front of the Washington State House in February.

"I love my job," she testified, "I love being an independent contractor; it's given me a lot of freedom and flexibility, but there are a lot of safety concerns. The panic buttons are super important to me. I personally have been physically assaulted and sexually assaulted by customers."

Bergstrom said having training and panic buttons will make the workplace safer.

"If we had a panic button that might deter some people from crossing the line or doing things that we don't want them to do, because I can push this button and security will come and escort you out," she said.

Some club managers say panic buttons could get in the way of dancing and say parts of the bill would be hard to implement. They have proposed other options, including putting panic buttons in rooms, instead of on each individual dancer.

But the bill is moving forward for now. The Washington state House already approved it (nearly unanimously), and senators will hear testimony Monday and could vote soon.