Court awards $15,000 compensation to exploited Nepalese man from Adelaide

Bimal Dehal

The Industrial Relations Court has awarded a Nepalese-born South Australian man $15,000 in compensation for the exploitation he faced at the hands of his employer.

The exploited waiter, Bimal Dehal, moved court after he failed to receive pay at weekend penalty rate for the work he undertook for an Adelaide-based Indian restaurant.

A PTI-report published by NDTV identified the manager as ‘Indian-origin hotelier’ Nicholas Sharma. The 29 year old Nepalese migrant worked for the Indian Masala Restaurant between April 29 and May 14, 2014, The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

Had Mr Sharma paid the victim before the case made it to the Industrial Relations Court, the restaurant owner would have parted with only $1640.06  –  the amount Mr Dehal originally requested based on the weekend penalty rate he claimed his employer owed him. Because he did not listen to the requests of his former employee, he ended up coping a much heftier fine of $15,000.

The Magistrate has ordered Mr Sharma to pay the amount within 28 days.

Reports indicate Mr Sharma showed no signs of remorse despite all the debates during the court hearing. He instead claimed that he was required to pay only $17.50 an hour for the weekend work. He argued that Mr Dehal could not speak ‘proper English’ and hence he should not have to pay him the higher rate.

“I’m offering to pay it, but not the amount that has been asked for — a person who can’t even speak proper English and he’s demanding $30 an hour,” The Daily Telegraph said he told the hearing.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie said the restaurant manager showed ‘complete contempt for the legal process and for the workplace laws’.

Mr Dehal, who reportedly lives at Daw Park in Adelaide with his wife, went to the court not merely to secure his money but to ‘set an example for others who are in the same situation and to show that this is not acceptable.’ He suspected many Indian men were being exploited in similar fashion.

With his 18 month long legal battle ending in his favour, he has certainly achieved his objective.

This is the second time a Nepalese-born worker has been paid compensation this year with the first case being now internationally infamous 7-Eleven imbroglio. A court last month penalised the former owner of a 7-Eleven store in Queensland for underpaying an international student from Nepal by tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Fair Work Australia, the young man was short-changed $21,298 during his employment at the now-closed 7-Eleven outlet at 243 Edward Street in Brisbane.

The Nepalese student worked for Mubin Ul Haider, the owner of the business, from January 2013 until February 2014. The Federal Circuit Court had fined Mr Haider $6970 for his unfair treatment of the student.

A Facebook account that southasia.com.au believes belongs to Mr Dehal was used to contact him but was not heard from.

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