Employer slammed with penalties after failing to attend sexual harassment case

A man who was sacked from his job at a backpackers’ hostel after complaining about being sexually harassed by his boss has been awarded compensation.

Employer slammed with penalties after failing to attend sexual harassment case
A m
an who was sacked for complaining about being sexually harassed by his former employer has been awarded over $35,000 compensation.

Varinder Singh was dismissed from his job at Wellywood Backpackers last year after his boss Ravichandiren NarayaNasamy – also known as Robbie Nara – sexually harassed him. 

According to legal documents, Singh alleged that NarayaNasamy sent him explicit text messages, including one that proposed starting a sexual relationship.

NarayaNasamy defended the message in question by saying it had been intended for an alternative recipient.

However, Singh claimed that his former employer had sent him a number of similar messages between April and July 2014 that were “personal, intrusive, and of a sexual nature”.

Member of the authority Trish MacKinnon said she did not believe that NarayaNasamy had intended to send the text message to someone else.

“I do not find that credible, given the content of texts he had sent to Mr Singh the previous day,” she said.

In his defence, NarayaNasamy – who was unwell and did not attend the hearing – claimed Singh’s employment had been terminated because of "laziness", alleging that the case was an attempt on Singh’s behalf to blackmail him for money.

MacKinnon said that because NarayaNasamy had failed to provide sworn evidence and was unavailable for cross-examination, she accepted Singh’s evidence.

Singh said that when he had complained about the sexual harassment in July last year, he was told that making the complaint would lead to the loss of his job.

Singh told the ERA that he received two formal warning letters which said he had been rude to his manager and failed to fulfil his duties.

He alleged that on August 1, he was informed that he was being dismissed, after which NarayaNasamy entered Singh’s room in the hostel and began to throw out and vandalise his belongings.

According to Singh, his protests led to racial and physical abuse from NarayaNasamy.

Singh also claimed he had been underpaid by Wellywood. His employment agreement stated that he would be paid at a rate of $16.10 per hour, but payslips showed that he had received $13.75 per hour.

“In the absence of evidence to the contrary from the employer I accept Mr Singh's evidence that he continued to be paid for those hours at that rate of pay until the pay period beginning 14 April 2014,” said MacKinnon.

It was also found that Singh’s employer had unlawfully made deductions from his wages when a guest had not honoured their booking.

MacKinnon issued a $3000 charge to Wellywood for the “fines” that had been imposed upon Singh, half of which is to be paid to the Crown.

Singh was awarded $7500 compensation for his personal grievance, $10,948 in lost wages and $14,067 in wage arrears, holiday pay and public holidays worked.

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