Employed or Self-Employed?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that £200,000-a-year stripper Nadine Quashie was an employee of Stringfellows club, paving the way for her unfair dismissal claim against the club. The EAT overturned the first-instance ruling that Quashie was self-employed and therefore unable to pursue her claim, stating that: “The judge’s repeated conclusion that there was no mutuality of obligation is frankly wrong.” Judge McMullen QC, who heard the appeal, said the concession made by Casper Glyn QC on behalf of Stringfellows at the appeal stage that a contract existed between the appellant and respondent meant she was employed by the club. “It seems to me that the vista has changed in the light of the realistic concession, properly made by Mr Glyn, that on each night the claimant was engaged she had a contract,” the judge said, adding that just because she was paid in vouchers did not render her self-employed - she was still paid. The judgment stated: “On each night she attended the claimant was obliged to work as directed by the management". “If she didn’t provide the free dances or other duties, she could be fined. I infer from the findings that if the claimant were directed to a customer, she could not refuse. “It seems to me that mere attendance on the night is pursuant to a requirement that she work; that is, that she turn up and stay throughout the night shift on pain of fine or deduction.” Her unfair dismissal claim will now be referred back to the Employment Tribunal (ET). A cross appeal by the respondents claiming that any contract would be illegal since it was directly prohibited by statute or it became illegal in its performance was also referred to the ET. Stringfellows plans to appeal the EAT decision.

Published May 2, 2012

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