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Stringfellow performer dances herself out of employee status

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In Stringfellow Restaurants Ltd v Quashie [2012] EWCA Civ 1735 the Court of Appeal overturned the Employment Appeal Tribunal and ruled that despite there being contractual obligations, no contract of employment existed between a lapdancer and Stringfellows.

The facts

Miss Quashie worked intermittently over an 18 month period as a lap dancer at Stringfellows. She was not provided with a copy of the club agreement, but was provided with a booklet which contained similar material to the house rules.  The rules did not prevent her from working elsewhere.  Miss Quashie received payment in vouchers purchased by customers and would negotiate her own fees.  The club would deduct commission fees, a house fee, and fines, and the remainder Miss Quashie would receive as earnings.

In December 2008 Stringfellows told Miss Quashie that she was no longer permitted to work at the clubs.  She consequently bought an unfair dismissal claim.  Stringfellows refuted the claim on the basis Miss Quashie was not an employee.

Who is any employee?

An employee is an individual who works under a contract of service; this is to be distinguished from a person who provides services such as an independent contractor.  When considering if there is a contract of service and whether an individual holds employee status the following factors are taken into consideration:

  • Are there mutual obligations between the parties?

  • Does the individual provide a personal service in return for remuneration?

  • Is there control of the individual by the employer?

  • Are other factors present which are consistent with a contract of service?

Why was Miss Quashie held not to be an employee?

Although Miss Quashie had to provide her work personally and there was the necessary degree of control, the most significant aspect of this case in determining whether Miss Quashie held employee status was the fact Stringfellows was under no obligation to pay Miss Quashie anything at all.  Miss Quashie negotiated her own fees with customers and only received money from Stringfellows that had come from customers.  It was immaterial that the club derived profits from selling food and drink to the customers. 

The reality was Miss Quashie was not employed to dance; rather she paid Stringfellows to be provided with the opportunity to earn money for dancing for clients.

Ultimately it was held that Miss Quashie bore the economic risk, Stringfellows was under no obligation to pay Miss Quashie; she was essentially paid by third parties and this was consistent with self-employed status.

If you would like any further information in relation to this matter or the area of employee status then please do not hesitate to contact Alexandra Dean, head of our Employment Department on 01245 228141 or via email at deana@gepp.co.uk

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