Mistreated at work? Don’t suffer in silence
Message from pro bono lawyer who helped duo win case for unpaid wages
Low-paid workers who feel they are being exploited have been urged to come forward and fight for their rights.
That was the message from Shiraz Sethi, a lawyer who volunteers at the pro bono clinics at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).
Sethi spoke to 7DAYS after two of his clients won a case against their former employer who made them do his personal chores, kept their passports and paid their salary late each month.
Sethi said: “I regularly advise individuals who are unable to afford legal advice to approach the pro bono clinic. It is a great avenue for individuals who do not have the financial means to seek the advice of a lawyer to determine how strong a claim they have and whether it is worth pursuing.
“It provides individuals with a level of comfort that they are not going to waste money which they don’t have by filing a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal.”
Sethi’s clients were employees at a restaurant in DIFC, where they each earned Dhs2,000 per month. However, they say their salaries were often paid up to three weeks late.
The pair eventually approached Sethi, from Stephenson Harwood Middle East, who took on their case for free. After lodging a complaint with DIFC Courts they emerged victorious. The court ordered they receive their outstanding salary, gratuity and flight tickets home.
One of the clients, a 24-year-old who worked as a chef, said: “Shiraz didn’t charge us a single penny for the case. So, we were able to fight for our rights.
“If other workers like us knew that there are lawyers who can help us for free and get our rights then employers might get a strong message about treating their workers right.”
The worker added: “The boss wasn’t giving us our pay slips, kept our passports and was giving us our salary really late. I used to earn only Dhs2,000, I kept Dhs300 with me and I would send the rest home to India because I have a younger siblings I need to educate. “But this man was causing problems for me and my family. “All of the staff had quit or been fired, so the owner was making us do extra work.” Sethi’s other client, a 37-year-old Indian expat, said the employer made him deliver items to his family and made him clean the restaurant - which was not part of his job. He claims the employer also forged his signature on a contract that said he had to pay Dhs4,000 for the delivery vehicle’s licence. “He wanted me to pay Dhs4,000 for the licence. Why would I pay for that? I never signed any contract. And my boss wasn’t giving me my salary, so how would I be able to pay him anything? “He was making me deliver water bottles to his house all the time and making me clean the restaurant. My job only included delivering the food.” He received Dhs3,500 and the other worker received Dhs5,000. The pro-bono clinics in DIFC are open to workers who cannot afford legal advice. For more information on pro-bono clinics email firstname.lastname@example.org.