Adult Entertainment Workers and Businesses Sue Florida Over Age Restriction Law

Tallahassee, Fla. — A 19-year-old woman and the adult entertainment club where she worked have filed a lawsuit against Florida’s attorney general and two local prosecutors, seeking to prevent the enforcement of a new state law that prohibits adult entertainment businesses from employing individuals under the age of 21. The lawsuit claims that the law violates their constitutional rights.

Serenity Michelle Bushey, the 19-year-old plaintiff, asserts in the lawsuit that she lost her job at Cafe Risque in the Gainesville area after the law came into effect on Monday, as she is younger than 21. The rationale behind the law, according to Florida lawmakers, is to deter human trafficking.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in federal court in Tallahassee, represents Bushey, the owner of Cafe Risque, and two other adult entertainment businesses in Jacksonville. It seeks a permanent injunction to halt the enforcement of the law, arguing that it infringes upon their First Amendment right to free speech and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

Beyond Bushey, the lawsuit states that eight other adult performers who are over 18 but under 21 years of age are also unable to work at Cafe Risque due to the new law.

“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 states. “Plaintiffs have a clear legal right to engage in protected speech of this nature.”

The new law extends its reach beyond performers, also prohibiting the hiring of cooks, DJs, waitresses, and security guards who are older than 18 but younger than 21, or even the use of workers in that age group from third-party contractors hired for tasks such as air-conditioning repairs or carpentry, according to the lawsuit.

Kylie Mason, communications director for the Office of the Attorney General, stated on Tuesday that the office had not yet been served with the lawsuit but would defend the new law.