A former Stringfellows stripper, Ms Quashie has won the right to appeal against a previous decision which said that she was not an employee of Stringfellows and as such not able to claim for unfair dismissal.
Ms Quashie claims that she had to give at least 25 per cent of her wages to Stringfellows in fees and was forced to work under strict orders before eventually being dismissed. Stringfellows maintain that she had signed a contract to say that she was in fact self employed and this means she has no means of claiming for unfair dismissal. The courts, however will look to the substance of the employment relationship rather than the 'label'. Importantly, she has claimed that she was under strict instructions not to work for anyone else and she was told when to dance. Ms Quashie notes that she had to dance on the hour whenever a particular song came on otherwise she would be financially penalised. It is these claims which suggest that there was the necessary 'mutuality of obligation' which is one of the elements that would warrant her an employee as opposed to a worker.
Having had some background in fighting of women's rights, Ms Quashie feels confident that she has a reasonable chance at winning her case and helping other strippers to achieve a higher degree of protection in their work. She is keen to make a stand and improve the regulation of the industry as a whole to stop the exploitation of strippers because of their employment status.
Her appeal is to be held in March next year and if successful she will become the first stripper to claim unfair dismissal. In the latest judgement the judge recognised that there were elements that supported an employment relationship. The club's barrister however, is of a different opinion and expressed that he thought the claim was based on a lot of little lies.
We will have to see how this all pans out but it's certainly an interesting story and serves as a reminder that the label given to a worker doesn't necessary equate to their employment rights in law. Employer's should be careful when trying to avoid their obligations to workers by saying that they are self employed, yet requiring them to work under such strict rules. Generally the courts will consider such aspects as whether or not there was an obligation to provide and conversely to accept that work, how national insurance and tax was paid, that is through the PAYE method or by the individual. Does the worker have a uniform to wear, are they allowed to ask someone else to perform their duties on their behalf and to what extent are they taking a financial risk, that is are they in business on their own account.