It is a sad fact that immigrant workers with little or no grasp of English are vulnerable to shocking mistreatment by a minority of employers. As an Employment Tribunal (ET) ruling showed, however, perpetrators of such abuse can expect crushing financial and reputational consequences when found out (Dimov v Mustafa and Another).

The case concerned a Bulgarian national who spoke no English when he came to the UK and found work at two catering establishments, performing such tasks as washing up and taking out rubbish. He eventually resigned, claiming that he had been treated like a slave, and launched ET proceedings.

Ruling on the matter, the ET found that his employer treated him very badly. He was overworked – toiling up to 60 hours a week – and underpaid, cash in hand. The employer subjected him to angry and foul-mouthed verbal abuse, sometimes comparing him to an animal, and twice abused him physically, pushing him against a wall and grabbing him by the throat, leaving red marks.

Having come to the UK with no family and unable to speak English, he felt unable to contact the police or otherwise obtain help. The harassment he endured was race related in that his vulnerabilities were intrinsically linked to his nationality. He was neither paid the National Minimum Wage nor did he receive his entitlement to paid leave. If not agreed, the amount of his compensation would be assessed at a further hearing.

Abuse and harassment of employees will, quite rightly, lead to employers falling foul of the law. Expert legal advice is essential to ensure you have the correct anti-harassment policies in place. Contact Emma-Louise Hewitt on 08081668860 for guidance.

For Immigration Law Advice speak to our Immigration team Andre Minnaar a.minnaar@sydneymitchell and Melissa Southall on 08081668827




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