Worker threatened with $10,000 fake rape accusation after he complains about putting in long hours for low pay
- Migrant worker’s visa only allowed him to work at one sports bar in Auckland
- He lodged a complaint over exploitation by the bar’s then-owners
- The owner’s associates said: ‘We can make trouble for you, we’ve done it before’
- Threatened to find a woman and pay her $10,000 to falsely accuse him of rape
- One person was convicted of blackmail in March but is appealing the decision
- Worker re-lodged his complaint – but only after the bar was sold to new owners
An Auckland bar worker was threatened with being framed for rape if he didn’t withdraw a complaint seeking backpay for unpaid work.
Migrant worker Amrit Pal Singh was on a visa that restricted him to working only at one sports bar in Auckland, whose name has been with-held due to legal advice.
He began work in January 2013 but soon found he was being forced to work excessive hours with little compensation.
Associates of migrant worker Amrit Pal Singh’s employer threatened to pay a woman $10,000 to make a fake rape accusation against him if he did not withdraw a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority over poor working conditions, an ERA decision said
Mr Singh lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority in June 2014 over his treatment by the bar’s owners, seeking payment for his extra hours.
Two months later, a drunken woman assaulted him in the bar where he worked, and was arrested by police.
Her daughter pleaded with him not to press charges, and Mr Singh agreed, but he told his employer about the incident.
Two weeks later, two people from his ex-employer’s companies threatened to cause trouble for Mr Singh and frame him for rape if he did not withdraw his complaint, a recent Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision said.
One of the defendants, whose names cannot be published due to an interim court order, told him the drunk woman’s attack was evidence that he was not honest, and accused him of stealing, the decision said.
The defendant told Mr Singh they were prepared to track down the woman and offer her $10,000 to say that he raped her, the decision said.
Trapped by his work visa, which only allowed him to work at one specific sports bar in Auckland that cannot be named for legal reasons, Mr Singh sought to re-lodge his complaint after the bar was sold to new owners. Stock photo.
They said they could make trouble for him and had done it to other people, the decision said.
The two defendants produced a letter to resolve his complaint and the employment investigation against the bar’s owners, and told Mr Singh to sign it, the decision said.
A week later, one of the defendants stood over Mr Singh in the office at the bar until he had typed and sent an email withdrawing his complaint, the decision said.
One of the two defendants was acquitted of blackmail in the Auckland District Court on March 29.
The other was convicted of blackmail in the Auckland District Court on March 29 and sentenced to 10 months’ home detention, but is appealing against the conviction.
When the bar was sold to new owners after 2014, Mr Singh re-lodged his complaint.
ERA member Tania Tetitaha allowed Mr Singh to re-open his complaint in a determination handed down last Friday.
‘There is sufficient evidence to show that the applicant’s withdrawal of his proceeding was procured through illegal means including threats unless he complied,’ she said.