Lap-dancer was not an employee

Posted: 28th December 2012

A former nightclub lap-dancer has had her hopes of mounting a successful unfair dismissal claim dashed after the Court of Appeal ruled that there had been ‘no wage/work bargain’ between her and the clubs where she worked and that she did not have the status of an employee.

The court accepted arguments put forward by Stringfellows Restaurants Limited that it had not been obliged to offer Nadine Quashie opportunities to dance; that she was entirely reliant upon the generosity of punters for her income and that she bore the ‘economic risk’ that she would not cover her costs.Stringfellows

Miss Quashie danced at Stringfellows and Angels clubs in London during 2007 and 2008. The company dispensed with her services in 2008 and, after launching proceedings for alleged unfair dismissal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled in April 2012 that she had been an employee.

The court accepted that there had been ‘mutual obligations of some kind’ between Miss Quashie and the company when she was actually dancing. However, in allowing the company’s appeal, the court ruled that those obligations fell short of establishing that a contract of employment existed. There was nothing inherently implausible in the company’s plea that it was not obliged to offer her work or to pay her anything.

The company argued successfully that, on the contrary, she had to pay the club a fee of £65 for the right to dance there, plus commission on her earnings from customers, plus fines for any breaches of club rules and that it was a frequent occurrence for her to make a loss on a night’s work. She was free to take as much or as little holiday as she liked; she was able to choose whether or not to work and she was also at liberty to work for a competitor.