Underpayments: Dulo Ram v D & D Indian Fine Food Pty Ltd [2015] FCCA 389

A cook who was bought from India to work in conditions “akin to slavery” has won almost $183,000 in compensation from a Sydney Indian restaurant after the cook failed to be paid and was forced to live in a store room and work 7 days a week. 

Mr Ram was bought out to Australia by Mr Tivedi, the director of D & D Indian Fine Food Pty Ltd, trading as Mand’s Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, NSW to work as a cook under a 457 visa in August 2007.

Immediately upon his arrival in Australia, Mr Trivedi took possession of Mr Ram’s passport and set him to work at the restaurant. Mr Ram was required to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and live in the store room of the restaurant. There was no shower and Mr Ram was forced to bathe in the kitchen using buckets of hot water. Mr Ram was illiterate and only had a very basic understanding of spoken English.

Mr Trivedi told Mr Ram that he would not be allowed to leave Australia unless he repaid Mr Trivedi $7,000, being the cost of bringing Mr Ram to Australia. Mr Trivedi physically and emotionally abused Mr Ram, telling Mr Ram that if he did not do as he was told, Mr Trivedi would take his house and property in India and would harm his family in India.

Mr Ram worked from 4 August 2007 until 4 December 2008 when he escaped the restaurant and went to the police. During his employment, Mr Ram had only 1 day off work, and was paid $6,958.88 which had been sent directly to his family in India.

Mr Trivedi was charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, organising and facilitating Mr Ram’s entry into Australia, and in doing so, being reckless as to whether Mr Ram would be exploited whilst in Australia.

Decision

The Court found that the conditions in which Mr Ram was required to live and work were “degrading and exploitative.” Judge Driver found that Mr Trivedi presented false and inconsistent evidence to the Court and

built a façade upon sham documents, to deceive the Department of Immigration and the ATO and attempted to deceive this Court, in an effort to create the illusion that there was an employment arrangement in accordance with Australian law.”

Mr Ram was awarded $125,431.22 for underpayment of wages, superannuation and annual leave entitlements plus $57,408.97 for interest. 

A cook who was bought from India to work in conditions “akin to slavery” has won almost $183,000 in compensation from a Sydney Indian restaurant after the cook failed to be paid and was forced to live in a store room and work 7 days a week.

Read the full decision here

* PCC Lawyers are a team of employment practitioners based in Sydney, with many years of combined knowledge and experience in workplace law, industrial relations, workplace investigations and training.  They provide a high standard of excellence and an exceptional level of personal service to a variety of clients in the Sydney metropolitan area, Central Coast, regional NSW and interstate.