The Employment Appeal Tribunal has considered the employment status of a lap dancer, Nadine Quashie, who worked at a Stringfellows club. She had made a claim for unfair dismissal, which had been rejected by an employment tribunal on the ground that she was not an employee and therefore not entitled to claim. Overturning this decision, the EAT looked at the three essential elements of an employment contract – the obligation to carry out work personally, the element of control over work by the employer, and mutuality of obligation and found all of these were present.
Although the relationship was described as one of self-employment, it was clear that Stringfellows exercised a strong degree of control over the dancer, requiring her comply with an extensive book of rules, and carry out specific duties in a prescribed way – including an obligation to perform free dances, and to re-audition if she took a break of more than four weeks – or be fined for failing to do so. Moreover, there was an obligation on her to attend for work according to a fixed rota and for Stringfellows to provide work for her.
Her claim for unfair dismissal will now be considered in full – but there is one further obstacle in her way. Stringfellows counter-appealed, claiming that the contract should not be enforced because it was illegal, because while Ms Quashie was working there she had been submitting tax returns on a self-employed basis and had not disclosed all those things she ought to have disclosed. Whether or not this was the case will now be considered as a matter of fact, by a tribunal, and if her tax affairs are found not to have been kept in order, she will be barred from claiming unfair dismissal.