Dancer at Stringfellows was an employee

In Quashie v Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd the EAT overturned an employment judge’s decision that a dancer at Stringfellows was not an employee and remitted proceedings for an employment tribunal to hear her claim for unfair dismissal.

Miss Quashie started work as a dancer at Stringfellows in June 2007; she received neither a copy of Stringfellows’ Club Agreement (which set out contract terms) or its House Rules. Miss Quashie received a copy of “Welcome to Stringfellows: the Cabaret of Angels” which contained similar material to the House Rules and reflected what happened in practice; she also completed an Engagement Form (provided in accordance with a Council licence) which sets a minimum fee Stringfellows has to pay a dancer for each dance.

Miss Quashie claimed that she was unfairly dismissed on 12th December 2008 and Stringfellows defended the claim arguing that she was not an employee and so the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to hear her unfair dismissal claim and further, even if she was an employee her contract was unenforceable because it had been performed illegally due to false representations in her tax returns.

Upon appeal by Miss Quashie against an employment judge’s finding that she was not an employee, the EAT held that there was mutuality of obligations and as such, Miss Quashie was an employee. There was mutuality of obligations on each night that Miss Quashie worked and she had to attend in accordance with the rota; in return, Stringfellows had to give her the opportunity to dance to earn money and in doing so, Strinfellows controlled her activities. The fact that Miss Quashie might not earn anything on a particular evening was immaterial because there was nothing inconsistent with the wage/work bargain in a requirement that wages will not be paid unless a certain performance is achieved, whether by volume, time or quality.

The EAT also held that if Miss Quashie had falsely represented her position to HMRC her contract would be unlawful and in turn, she would not be able to enforce her right to claim unfair dismissal.