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Nevada sex worker sues over pandemic shutdown of brothels

Updated November 2, 2020 - 1:50 pm

A Nevada sex worker sued Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday over continued shutdown of the state’s legal brothels.

Alice Little, who bills herself as “the highest-earning courtesan at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel” in Lyon County, alleged that sex workers have been unfairly singled out amid the pandemic.

“If it’s safe for a customer to get a massage at a massage parlor, then it should be safe for a customer to visit a legal sex worker if COVID-19 precautions are taken,” Little was quoted as saying in a news release that announced the lawsuit. “Sex workers like me are suffering financially and emotionally. We have minimal options for economic relief and limited alternative employment opportunities due to our stigmatized work history… The governor’s decision to keep the brothels closed is arbitrary, unconstitutional, and in direct violation of my right to earn a living.”

Through a spokeswoman, the governor’s office declined to comment on the litigation.

The complaint filed by Las Vegas First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza seeks a judicial order to rescind Sisolak’s executive order that keeps brothels closed.

The lawsuit filed in Lyon County also claims that the governor has violated the rights of sex workers to earn a living, along with their equal protection rights and freedom of association.

Randazza pointed to other businesses that have been allowed to reopen in Nevada, including tattoo shops, hair and nail salons and bars.

“He (Sisolak) has, without any rational basis, decided to single out brothels,” the lawsuit stated.

Should brothels remain closed, Randazza suggested options for legal sex work in the state.

“Licensed sex workers should still be permitted to utilize their licenses to ply their legal trade at their own residences or in private locations, as long as they are sanitary and follow COVID guidelines,” the suit stated.

State law prohibits prostitution outside of legal brothels, which are banned in counties with populations of 700,000 or more.

In a phone interview last week, Randazza said he believed Little had a “very solid constitutional claim” that could help sex workers get back to their jobs.

“It’s not just hurting them economically,” he said. “It’s giving an unfair advantage to the sex workers who don’t obey the law and don’t have licenses.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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