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A recent case before the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decision has raised more than a few eyebrows…..The case involved Stringfellow Resteraunts Ltd and Nadine Quashie, the latter was a dancer (Angel) at two of Stringfellowes clubs come resteraunts.

The judgement reads….   The Club has a menu which sets out dance packages; £20 for one fully nude tableside dance, £200 for half an hour and from £300 for one hour to invite a Dancer to the table for “sit downs” where a Dancer sits and talks with a customer!

Anyway back to the far less interesting facts of this case,

The worker was a lap dancer who danced at a club on a fortnightly rota. She was expected to attend a meeting at the club once a week at which the rota was set. When she was working, she was paid directly by customers in the form of vouchers which were then exchanged for cash. Dancers were required to pay a “house-fee” for being

allowed to dance at the club and could be fined for missing a shift, being late for work or failing to attend the weekly meeting. They were described in the club’s documentation as independent contractors and were responsible for their own tax and national insurance contributions.

When the worker was no longer allowed to dance at the club (because of a suspicion she was involved with drugs), she brought an unfair dismissal claim. The question was whether she was an employee and, if so, whether she had the service required to bring a claim. The Court of Appeal ruled that she was not an employee. The club had no obligation to pay wages or salary – the worker negotiated fees directly with, and was paid by, customers. She paid the club a fee for the opportunity to earn money dancing for its customers and took the risk that she would be out of pocket at the end of the night after deducting the club’s fees and commission from her earnings.

In summary “The critical question was as to whether the nature of those contractual obligations. Were they such as to render it a contract of employment? The court found that  …. the most important finding in that regard was the Tribunal’s inference from the evidence that the employer was under no obligation to pay the dancer anything at all. The principal evidence for that was that she negotiated her own fees with the clients, took the risk that on any particular night she would be out of pocket and received back from the employer only monies received from clients (whether by way of cash or Heavenly Money) after deductions.

Citation: [2012] EWCA Civ 1735

Case: Quashie v Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd