Stringfellows lapdancer loses unfair dismissal case… then gets compared to a church organistNadine Quashie, 29, ruled to have been self-employed so cannot sue the clubExpert compares legal battle with similar cases brought by church organists'Exactly the same legal principles are at stake,' he said
20:18 GMT, 21 December 2012
20:25 GMT, 21 December 2012
Former lap dancer Nadine Quashie, 29, lost her latest court battle today to sue Stringfellows night club for unfair dismissal
A former Stringfellows lapdancer lost her landmark legal battle to become the first stripper to sue for unfair dismissal today.
Nadine Quashie, 29, was self-employed and so could not sue London's Covent Garden nightclub, the Court of Appeal ruled.
And Miss Quashie, of Greenford, west London, was compared to a church organist in her fight to be a recognised employee.
Employment law specialist David von
Hagen, a partner at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said: 'Strippers and church organists do
not generally have a great deal in common, but this case brings the two
together because exactly the same legal principles are at stake.
'There have been a number of recent cases where church organists have brought similar actions, claiming unfair dismissal when removed from their post and basing their arguments about being employees, like Nadine Quashie, on the level of control exercised over their work.
'As in Nadine Quashie’s case, the Courts would look at the degree of control the club owners or the church ministers exercise, directing when and what music to play or where and when to dance.'
Miss Quashie is now set to continue her case in the highest court of the land
– appealing to the Supreme Court.
Today's decision overturned a previous ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that Miss Quashie was employed by Stringfellows because the club imposed contractual obligations on her.
Miss Quashie had alleged that she had to work set days and attend meetings at the club – or face being fined.
The single mother told the court she had to comply with the club's strict image and dress code that saw her dance topless wearing only a G-string on stage and naked in private.
While working she had to be on standby ready to perform free pole dances whenever summoned by the DJ.
Miss Quashie also claimed she had to perform free dances for customers 'on the hour every hour' whenever the Motley Crue song 'Girls, Girls, Girls' was played. She said she could be fined 10 for each part of a song or whole song that she missed.
She said she would earn up to 1,265 a night as wealthy customers stuffed prepaid vouchers called 'Heavenly money' into her garter.
And she had to get a manager's approval for 'any agreement with a customer worth more than 300 to the dance'.
At the end of each night, the club had to give Miss Quashie cash for the vouchers she accumulated – minus its fees and commissions and any fines.
But Stringfellows revealed to the court how Miss Quashie actually paid them 65 a night – and ended up out of pocket if the club was quiet and punters refused to tip.
It argued that her working terms were allegedly so miserly that she was 'often' paying the club to let her strip there rather than vice versa.
Lawyers Stringfellows argued Nadine Quashie was not an employee because she had no obligation to work there
Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Elias today ruled that the EAT made a 'plain error' in concluding that Stringfellows' obligations to Miss Quashie amounted to a contract of employment.
He highlighted the evidence that 'the employer was under no obligation to pay the dancer anything at all'.
Had Miss Quashie won today, thousands of strippers and lap dancers could have benefitted from her case.
They have always been unable to sue even where they work long, regular hours under their club's control.
After the judgment Miss Quashie said: 'I am saddened by the judgment but will continue to seek justice and better regulation in the industry.
'The status quo where dancers are denied their basic employment rights cannot continue. I think it is common sense that I was employed by them.'
Her solicitor Shah Qureshi said: 'Nadine is naturally disappointed with the judgment and is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.'
Miss Quashie was a women's rights campaigner while studying accountancy and finance at Thames Valley University.
She began her legal battle against Stringfellows after she was sacked in December 2008 over drug dealing allegations that she denies.
Stringfellows denies that she had to give free dances to customers and has been vigorously contesting her claim of unfair dismissal.