5th December 2012

Quashie v Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd [2012] EAT IRLR 536

Article by admin | Legal Updates

The Employment Appeal (EAT) Tribunal holds that a lap dancer was an employee and therefore entitled to bring a claim of unfair dismissal.

Ms Quashie worked for the Stringfellows as a lap dancer from June 2007. Ms Quashie signed a form that provided for a minimum fee to be paid to her by Stringfellows in respect of each dance. She did not, however, receive the agreement which stated the dancers were self-employed.

Ms Quashie worked two Saturdays and Mondays a month at the Stringfellows club, and was required to attend meetings every Thursday at which the rota was set. On the nights she danced she was paid in ‘heavenly money’, which was a voucher paid to her by customers and then exchanged by the club, minus deductions, for cash.

Ms Quashie was dismissed due to allegations of drug dealing in December 2008. Following her dismissal, she needed 1 years’ service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and Stringfellows argued she was not an employee. At the Tribunal, the judge decided Ms Quashie was not an employee as there was no obligation for Stringfellows to provide her with paid work. Therefore, the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.

Ms Quashie appealed and succeeded. The EAT found the judge had not correctly applied the test of mutuality of obligation: is there an obligation for the claimant to work and for the respondent to pay for that work? The EAT found there was.

Although her earnings came entirely from customers who paid her in vouchers that were changed into sterling, she was paid for work done. Employment status is not decided alone on the source of the payment. The ‘wage for work’ test would have been satisfied if Ms Quashie had agreed to dance in exchange for accommodation, free meals, fees paid directly to her university or even for payment of 1p a night. Furthermore, mutual obligations subsisted between the parties during any short gaps (ranging from two to six weeks) when Ms Quashie was not working. Therefore, she was employed under an umbrella contract of employment. Ms Quashie was able to bring her claim for unfair dismissal and this was sent back to the Tribunal to determine.