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Employment Status: Stringfellows' Lapdance

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[Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary]

Is a lap dancer an employee?

Yes, says the EAT (HHJ McMullen QC) in Quashie v Stringfellows Restaurants Limited reversing an employment tribunal's decision dismissing an Unfair Dismissal claim on the grounds that the lap dancer Claimant was not an employee.

The Claimant worked under a standard contract, the relationship was generally understood in the industry to be one of self-employment. The Claimant worked on a rota; she was entitled to work when on the rota; and was paid by the Respondent for the 'Heavenly Money' vouchers (a money substitute) that she received from clients, subject to agreed deductions.

In a fact-specific Judgment, the EAT held that on a proper construction of the employment tribunal's findings, the Claimant was an employee. The Respondent had the right to control the Claimant's activities when she was at work. Even though the Claimant worked under an 'umbrella contract' covering each separate engagement, the relationship gave rise to an expectation of continued engagement, hence there was sufficient mutuality of obligation for employment status.

The EAT remitted the case to consider the Unfair Dismissal complaint and permitted a tax-related illegality defence raised by the Respondent to be considered.