The Case of Quashie: Between the Legalisation of Sex Work and the Precariousness of Personal Service Work

Einat, Albin (2013): The Case of Quashie: Between the Legalisation of Sex Work and the Precariousness of Personal Service Work, in: Industrial Law Journal, 42 (2): 180-191.

On 21 December 2012, the Court of Appeal (CA) gave its decision in the case of Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd v Nadine Quashie.1 This case questioned whether Ms Quashie, a lap-dancer, was self-employed or whether she was an employee under a contract of employment. According to the facts laid down in the judgment, Ms Quashie worked a few times a week in a club, paid a fee to work there, was defined as an independent contractor in the club owners’ hand book and the clients took part in the process of payment. The CA reversed the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and stated that there was no mutuality of obligations such as to constitute a contract of employment, since there was no wage-work bargain between the parties. The club had no obligation to pay the dancer ‘anything at all’,2 and therefore, as the Court said, ‘the dancer took the economic risk’.3 Quashie provides us with an opportunity to consider the tight link that British labour law creates between service workers, gender and precariousness in the context of sex work. Particularly, it offers to rethink the way the court considers the roles of the three parties in interactive service work—workers, management and customers—in its process of fact assessment, and accordingly its decision on whether a contract of employment was constructed.

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