Restaurant owner Madhan Bisht has been ordered to pay a former employee more than $75,000 for unpaid wages and worker exploitation by the Employment Relations Authority.
Bisht has also been ordered to pay a $50,000 fine to the crown, for breaches of employment law.
The employee, Susey George, was employed by Bisht at the Curry Leaf Restaurant in Auckland, after the restaurateur helped him apply for an employer-sponsored work visa in 2015.
During the three years that George worked at the restaurant, he lived in Bisht’s home. Bisht told him he had to live there as a part of the visa sponsorship process. After working hours, Bisht often made George do chores around his home, documents showed.
The authority heard that during his employment, George worked 70 hours per week for seven days, often he worked for eight to ten weeks without any days off. George told a labour inspector it was rare to finish work at the restaurant’s closing time, and he sometimes worked as late as 1am.
In 2017, George requested to take leave to visit his mother who was sick. He requested it in January, but Bisht would not allow him to take leave until June. His mother died before he was able to visit her, and he was not given permission to attend her funeral.
The situation was ruled “a substantial abuse of the power imbalance between employer and employee” by Authority member Eleanor Robinson.
The Curry Leaf Restaurant entered voluntary liquidation at the end of 2019, but in the same location, the Imaxx Indian Restaurant opened in early 2020. The sole shareholder of the business is Manju Bisht, who is the wife of Madhan Bisht.
“The fact that another Indian restaurant is now being operated from the same premises as the Curry Leaf Restaurant which has a connection with Mr Bisht is of concern in light of the breaches,” commented Robinson.
During the investigations, authority officers attempted to get in contact with Bisht for a statement. In response Bisht was aggressive and offensive to the Authority officer, proceeding documents show.
George is now a resident in India.