Forget Patmore, a former accountancy and finance student is starring this week in what must surely be the employment and tax case of the year.
Lapdancer Nadine Quashie allegedly earned more than £1,000 a night dancing at the Stringfellows (NSFW) club London and is now trying to pursue an unfair dismissal through the Employment Tribunal after being fired in December 2008 following allegations of drug use and dealing.
On behalf of the club, Caspar Glyn argued that the dancer was not entitled to rights under the tribunal as she was self-employed. “To take off your clothes and be paid to do that, it is a curious, unusual situation… which is perhaps in itself unsuited to an employment relationship,” he told the tribunal.
Aiming another blow below the belt, he added that Quashie should be disqualified from having her case heard because she had misrepresented her tax affairs – in spite of having studied accountancy and finance at Thames Valley University for a year.
She took two years off her studies to hold a full-time position as women’s rights officer for the student union, but instead of returning to the course she turned to lapdancing.
She has told the tribunal that conditions at the club effectively meant dancers were employees and she should be entitled to a full tribunal hearing. Like other dancers, she was required to give up 25% in commission, with an additional £85 deducted for nightly fees.
While Stringfellows insisted she was self-employed, Quashie said she did not learn of her self-employed status until another dancer told her of the situation five months after she started working there.
This case has everything for employment and tax advisers, HMRC investigators and retired colonels from Tonbridge. In addition to the lurid claims of private, late night sessions with Peter Stringfellow and his friends, it presents a classic challenge for the badges of employment tests and some messy tax implications for all sides.
Purely hypothectically, how would you advise the participants in such a case? Back at the central London tribunal, meanwhile, judgment in the case has been reserved.