Freelancer was employee owing to mutuality of obligation

Mutuality of Obligation is what convinced a judge to rule that a self-employed lap dancer was technically an employee and therefore within her rights to sue for unfair dismissal, an employment tribunal ruling shows.

Nadine Quashie, a former dancer at Stringfellows, was said by the tribunal to have satisfied the minimum requirements for a contract of employment to exist, with an element of control, personal service and, crucially, MOO.

Pointing to sufficient mutuality between the parties every night Ms Quashie worked at the club, tribunal Judge McMullen noted that she was required to turn up personally whenever she was rostered to work, and performed under the direction of management.

Stringfellows were also said to have been obliged to provide opportunities for Ms Quashie to dance, while also being obliged to exchange vouchers she had earned in sterling.

“[This was] plainly an obligation to pay her,” reflected Bindmans, the law firm which represented Ms Quashie.

Her lawyer Shah Qureshi added: “She worked under a contract over which Stringfellows had control and under which she was required to provide services for payment. There were mutual obligations that had all the hallmarks of an employment relationship”.

During her time at the club, Ms Quashie could be fined if she didn’t provide free dances or comply with her other duties, which included having to attend an unpaid weekly meeting.

All of these factors, including the regular nature of the rota, led the dancer to an “expectation of a continued working relationship.”

Bindmans added that the case is now remitted to a three-person employment tribunal to determine the question of unfair dismissal, relating to Ms Quashie’s firing from Stringfellows in December 2008.

“I’m delighted”, the 29-year-old said of the decision. “It confirms my belief that I was an employee entitled to the same basic rights as an employee in any other industry. It has been a long struggle and I look forward to my unfair dismissal claim now.”



13th May 2012

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