Sacked after paying boss for visa

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 09:57 21/07/2014

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A woman has won more than $56,000 after her boss, who had taken money from her in return for getting her a visa, fired her.

The Employment Relations Authority in Auckland ordered the payments from Tan Pacific, operator of BB's Cafe in Auckland, to student Lin Zhang.

In an unusual twist, Tan Pacific failed to show up for any of the hearings or make any statement about its treatment of Zhang.

When Zhang told William Tan that her work visa was about to expire, he said she could have a job. However, she would have to pay him to assure him she would work for him for two years.

"Ms Zhang gave evidence that Mr Tan told her to pay him $10,000 upfront and then the remaining $13,000 once she got her work visa approved," authority member James Crichton says in his ruling.

"She says that she offered to make those payments to Mr Tan by bank transfer but that he refused, saying that he would only accept cash payments."

Zhang said she was made to work extremely long hours and at one point worked a month without a break.

Being near Vector Arena, the cafe was also busy at certain times, but at other times it would be quiet and her hours would be cut. At times she would not be paid for months and was not paid in accordance with her employment contract.

She once saw a doctor, who gave her a medical certificate to take time off work.

Tan insisted she work anyway.

Zhang hired a lawyer to begin a personal grievance process, but Tan did not reply either over her wages or the money she had paid.

"I have no hesitation in concluding that Ms Zhang was unjustifiably constructively dismissed from her employment," Crichton wrote.

"Ms Zhang was treated disgracefully by Tan Pacific throughout the employment and on her evidence was simply taken advantage of."

Tan's behaviour was "so outrageous as to effectively create a breach or breaches of the employment agreement of sufficient seriousness to entitle Ms Zhang to repudiate the agreement and resign her employment."

The authority directed that Zhang be repaid the $23,000.

Tan was directed to additionally pay her $8500 as compensation for hurt, humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings as a consequence of the way that she has been treated by the employer.

Tan was also ordered to pay Zhang $25,160 in wages, holiday and sick pay.

The authority issued a Certificate of Determination which means the District Court can enforce payment.

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