Sydney, 27 March 2015: The Federal Circuit
Court has today ordered a restaurant and its owner to pay $186,000
in wages withheld from a man who was trafficked from India under a
sham 457 visa arrangement and held in forced labour, working 12
hours a day, seven days a week, for 16 months.
In Ram v D&D Indian Fine Food Pty Ltd & Trivedi
 FCCA 389, Judge Driver found that Mr Divye Kumar
Trivedi had trafficked Mr Dulo Ram from rural India, to work at Mr
Trivedi's Mand's Indian Restaurant in Eastwood, Sydney. Mr
Ram was functionally illiterate, spoke virtually no English and had
no contacts in the Australian community.
Mr Ram was held as a slave. He lived, ate, worked and slept in
the restaurant kitchen, with only one day off in for 16 months. He
was not paid. When the restaurant was visited by the Department of
Immigration, it was "fobbed off with lies and fabricated
documents". Mr Ram told officials exactly what Mr Trivedi had
instructed him to say. The Court found this to be unsurprising - Mr
Ram "spoke no English, was alone in this country, was under a
trafficking debt, and was afraid".
The Court described a façade built upon sham documents by
Mr Trivedi and his company, to deceive the Department of
Immigration, the Australian Taxation Office and the Court, in an
effort to convey the illusion of a legal employment arrangement.
False wage books and time records were created by Mr Trivedi, and a
false bank account controlled by Mr Trivedi was opened in Mr
The Court found that the case was a "grotesque abuse of the
457 visa programme", with Mr Ram being trafficked to Australia
for "exploitation in breach of Australian law".
Mr Ram was covered by the Restaurants Employees (State) Award,
and the Court ordered that Mr Trivedi and his company pay
$125,431.22 for wages, superannuation and annual leave for the 16
month period, as well as a further $60,607.81 in interest on the
This successful case follows 3 years of pro bono representation
of Mr Ram by Clayton Utz, and pro bono representation by barristers
Yaseen Shariff and Jocelyn Williams. The case was referred to the
Clayton Utz Pro Bono practice by Anti-Slavery Australia, a
specialist legal research and policy centre focused on the
abolition of slavery, trafficking and extreme labour
Clayton Utz Pro Bono National Practice Group Leader
David Hillard, who led the team representing Mr Ram, said that
this case was an important decision which shed light on some of the
horrific conditions in which foreign workers have been held in this
"Through our work alongside Anti-Slavery Australia, our Pro
Bono practice has acted for dozens of people who have experienced
unspeakable treatment and indignities at the hands of traffickers,
who have forced them into acts of slave labour or sexual servitude
as "repayment" of trafficking debts. This is happening
right now, in our community, under our noses. This case shows that
there are avenues for obtaining justice for the victims of labour
trafficking and slavery.Compensation will not erase the demeaning,
degrading experience which our client has endured, but it does say
plainly that what happened to him was wrong, and cannot be
tolerated under Australian law".
This year, Clayton Utz will become the first law firm in
Australia to have provided a total of half a million pro bono
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
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The Federal Court handed down the largest court imposed fine for breaching subclass 457 visa sponsorship obligations.
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