21 May 2012

Lap dancer wins employment status dispute…

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The price of a lap dance may just have gone up following the recent employment status dispute in the case of Quashie v Stringfellow Restaurants Ltd [2012].

Miss Quashie was engaged as a self-employed lap dancer at Stringfellow’s restaurant where, in 2008 she was dismissed for taking and dealing drugs. She subsequently brought a claim against the company for unfair dismissal but had to first demonstrate she was an employee of the company.

It was concluded by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that her personal service was required, she was subject to a sufficient degree of control and there was mutuality of obligation when performing the services and in between shifts.  These factors demonstrated that she was in fact an employee and therefore entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

This case highlights three key issues:

  • The first being how easily a claim can be brought against you if you engage self-employed people. Most companies would assume it is reasonable to dismiss an employee for drug dealing let alone terminating the services of a self-employed individual. The fact that Miss Quashie was initially treated as self-employed however did not protect the company whatsoever.
  • Now that one person has successfully argued they were an employee it could well open the flood gates and and Stringfellows could easily find themselves with many more claims for unfair dismissal, holiday pay, wrongful dismissal, failure to provide a written contract and the list goes on.
  • Last of all, there are not many cases concerning lap dancers and although it doesn’t actually set a precedent in terms of the employment status tests, it could start a trend in the industry and if any other lap dancers were to make an employment claim this case would definitely form part of the argument.

There are a significant number of employment status cases relating to industries such as construction but this case demonstrates how fragile employment status can be outside of construction and how one case can potentially open the doors not only within that business but across an industry

Marble operate in a number of different industries and although there are some areas we will not /cannot provide services in, it may be worth you getting in contact with us if you engage self-employed people and have concerns about challenges from the individuals or HMRC.