Saturday 1 October 2016

Supreme Court overturns judgment which denied 'slave' worker €92,700 award

David Kearns

Published 25/06/2015 | 14:46

Mohammed Younis protesting outside the Dail for more protection for undocumented workers
Mohammed Younis protesting outside the Dail for more protection for undocumented workers

A former chef has been awarded almost €92,700 following a Supreme Court decision to overturn an earlier ruling that found as an undocumented worker, he was not entitled to compensation.

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Mohammed Younis said he felt vindicated by the unanimous judgment, which upheld a 2011 Rights Commissioner decision to award him €92,634.42 in unpaid wages and compensation for seven years’ work in a Clondalkin restaurant.

In 2012, the High Court overturned the award on the grounds that, as an undocumented worker, Mr Younis did not have a valid contract.

Judge Hogan held that Mr Younis could not lawfully have been awarded the money, most of it back pay, because "the Labour Court could not lawfully entertain an application for relief in respect of an employment contract that was substantively illegal."

“While this conclusion seems to me to be inescapable on the application of established legal principles, it is not a result which yields much satisfaction,” he added.

Speaking outside the Supreme Court today, Mr Younis said, “I am very happy and I want to thank all my supporters. After six years, I’ve finally got justice. The next step is to get the €92,634.42 that is owed to me.”

Originally from Pakistan, the former chef was forced to work 77 hours a week without a contract for seven years, earning just 51 cent an hour for the first three years.

Mohammed Younis
Mohammed Younis

Speaking after the judgment, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) spokesperson Gráinne O’Toole said: “The High Court judgment essentially gave unscrupulous employers a license to exploit undocumented workers with impunity.

"For Mohammed, and for all other workers, we are relieved that the Supreme Court has disagreed with that decision.”

MRCI’s Gráinne O’Toole continued “Mr Younis has spent the last six years fighting for his rights, and we are overjoyed that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favour at last.

"He should never have had to endure such exploitation and the theft of his earning by his employer.

"In the course of his fight for justice, he has changed the law and made Ireland a better place for all workers.”

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