New Zealand Law Society - Big fines for owner and company that exploited workers

Big fines for owner and company that exploited workers

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A Filipino national and her company have been sentenced on nine charges relating to the exploitation of five migrant workers at their Japanese sushi restaurants in Auckland.

At the Auckland District Court on 23 December, Rosanna Imai was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay an emotional harm payment of $5,000 to her victims while her company, Imai Japanese Food Services Ltd, was fined $5,000.

Imai recruited the five Filipino workers through her company to come to New Zealand and work as Japanese chefs or sushi cooks. In each case the workers were paid less than they were promised and were forced to work in excess of 60 hours per week.

Between them they were underpaid more than $55,000 although compensation has now been paid to all of them.

Imai was sentenced on seven charges under the Immigration Act relating to providing false and misleading information to an immigration officer and not paying the minimum wage. Imai Japanese Food Services Ltd was sentenced on two charges under the Immigration Act for not paying the minimum wage.

All five victims have current work visas to work at other employers.

Immigration New Zealand Assistant General Manager Peter Devoy says migrant exploitation will not be tolerated.

“The overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand,” Mr Devoy says.

“We will not tolerate employers who exploit migrant labour for their own commercial advantage and will not hesitate to prosecute in cases where warranted.”

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