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Ex-Stripper Loses U.K. Lawsuit Over the Definition of ‘Employee’

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A former table dancer fired over suspected drug use lost an appeal in a lawsuit that looked at whether strippers are employees or contractors at U.K. clubs.

Judges in London’s Court of Appeal overturned an employment appeal tribunal’s decision today that said Nadine Quashie was a permanent employee at Stringfellow Restaurants Ltd. The appeals court today said that Quashie was a contractor because she made payments to the club for the opportunity to entertain clients.

“The fact that the dancer took the economic risk is also a very powerful pointer against the contract being a contract of employment,” Judge Patrick Elias said in his written ruling.

Strip clubs have fought cases on tax and free speech in Britain and the U.S. Spearmint Rhino Ventures, one of the U.K.’s largest lap-dancing chains, won a 2007 ruling that it doesn’t have to pay value-added tax on services provided by its dancers. This year, a New York court will hear arguments on the regulations covering exotic dance venues.

Shah Qureshi, a lawyer for Quashie, said his client is considering an appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court and the ruling may affect other industries.

Quashie “maintains that her work for Stringfellows had all the hallmarks of an employment relationship,” Qureshi said. “She was required to provide services in exchange for payment, there were mutual obligations between the parties and Stringfellows exerted a high level of control over her work.”

Stringfellows lawyer, Marie van der Zyl, said the ruling was based on the facts of the situation.

“I believed in the case from the start,” Van der Zyl, a lawyer at Davenport Lyons LLP, said in an e-mailed statement. “The case has been correctly decided on its own facts and confirmed what was already a widely accepted industry position.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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