AUCKLAND CHEF AWARDED $33K

An Auckland chef who lost his job while on holiday has been awarded $33,465 by the Employment Relations Authority for being unjustly dismissed.

Babu Pandit, a worker at Indian restaurant chain Satya, worked at Satya Mt Eden for three years between April 2013 and September 2016 under the terms of three work visas. He left the country for an extended period of leave and returned to India, with the intention of bringing his wife and children upon returning to New Zealand.

However, his visa was cancelled in November due to two emails and a letter sent to Immigration New Zealand by his employer.

In the emails, former employer Akuthota Jwala Narsimha Swamy claimed that Pandit suffered from diabetes and mislead INZ on his visa application form. “Based on this information, we request to terminate his visa as we will not be employing him further,” wrote Swamy. He requested that this tip-off be kept anonymous but also that he be advised “when action taken.” Swamy then backed it up with a signed letter.

Pandit had been advised by his GP to regulate his blood sugar levels, but a miscommunication between Pandit, Swamy and another worker led to Swamy taking the issue to Immigration New Zealand without consulting Pandit.

“A fair and reasonable employer could not have acted on that supposed information without providing an opportunity to comment and possibly correct it,” the decision said.

Pandit was paid $18,465 in lost wages and $15,000 in compensation for the humiliation and shock to which he was subjected.