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File photo of the offices of the WRC Alamy

Woman who dreaded going to work in takeaway for fear of sexual assault and rape awarded €143k

The Complainant said that her colleagues repeatedly discriminated against her because of her gender, and that she endured constant harassment.

A MIGRANT WOMAN has been awarded €143,268 by the Workplace Relations Commission after experiencing almost daily sexual harassment and discrimination while working in a takeaway in Skerries, Co Dublin.

Sharanjeet Kaur, who is originally from India, came to work in Ireland in 2021 as a chef at Bombay House restaurant, after being promised a “significant salary” and a “life-changing experience” for her and her children.

Throughout her employment at the restaurant, Kaur claims that her colleagues repeatedly discriminated against her because of her gender, and that she endured constant harassment. She says they speculated about her sex life, took photos of her and touched her without her consent.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard that the complainant feared her colleagues would sexually assault or rape her.

Gardaí were present at one of the WRC adjudication hearings, having received a previous complaint of witness intimidation. They were also investigating a complaint of human trafficking. 

The representative for Bombay House, Don Garry, took issue with the presence of the two gardaí at the hearing on January 30, submitting that the respondent wanted the matter heard in private.

He also submitted that the Gardaí were “exerting their influence”, that they “ha[d] no business being in this room”, and that they were bringing “undue pressure” on the proceedings.

The respondent’s request for a private hearing was denied. Garry and the respondent then left the hearing.

As they were no longer in attendance, they did not contest the complainant’s evidence.

Pay and accommodation

Kaur came to Ireland from Malaysia, where she was working as a chef, after she was approached by an Indian national who put her in contact with someone who worked for Bombay House.

He told her that she would have free accommodation but that she would have to cover her flight costs and work permit.

Kaur submitted that her father took out a loan to pay her €17,000 permit.

The work permit, submitted in evidence to the Commission, indicated that the complainant would be employed as a “Chef De Partie”, earning a salary of €30,000.

The accommodation provided to her was shared with seven other employees – six men and one woman. She and the woman shared a double bedroom.

Kaur began working at the restaurant on 23 September 2021 and over the following 14 months made a number of complaints about various issues relating to the working conditions.

Although around €500 was deposited into her account every week, the Respondent’s Director, Bhappa Singh, would then drive her to an ATM three days later, when she had to withdraw and return €290 to him in cash.

The complainant submitted that sometimes they had to drive to more than one ATM, due to lack of cash availability or cash withdrawal limits. 

She said that Singh told her that the cash amount was tax that she owed to Revenue, and threatened her that she would be deported if she did not comply.

The complainant submitted that the net financial effect was that she was paid around €200 for a 50-hour week, amounting to €4.46 per hour after deductions.


In her complaint form, Kaur submitted that she experienced discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment on an almost daily basis for the entirety of her employment. 

There were three main perpetrators of the discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment, but she said that the remaining employees, bar one male employee who was kind to her (referred to as ‘her friend’ during proceedings), had full knowledge of, and were complicit in, the offending behaviour.

The alleged perpetrators were referred to as R1, R2 and R3 in the proceedings. 

The complainant submitted that during her first week, she showed photos of her children on her phone, to her friend. She said that R1 was watching her on the kitchen CCTV at the time and took photos of her. He then began to blackmail her.

He falsely accused her of having “improper relations” with her friend and told her that he would show the photos to her family in India and destroy her reputation and her life if she did not comply with his requests.

Kaur further submitted that on a couple of occasions, she went for an ice-cream with her friend and was followed by R1 and another employee in a car. They flashed the car lights at her, to let her know that she was being followed.

She said she was berated for spending time with a man of Pakistani origin. Her colleague again threatened to tell her family that she was having “improper relations” with him. She was hugely upset by these incidents.

Kaur submitted that R3, a female employee who she shared a staff accommodation bedroom with, was very friendly with R1 and R2. The WRC was told that R3 told R1 about Kaur’s personal hygiene routines, how she wore her towel after showering, what her genitalia looked like and what her undergarments looked like, as well as other personal details.

Kaur said that R1 would then repeat all of these details back to her in front of all of the other employees.

R1 would also suggest that the complainant was having sex on a daily basis and he would comment on her breast size.

Kaur said she begged R1 not to do this. However, she submitted that he continued to harass, torment and humiliate her on an almost daily basis. The complainant submitted that R1, R2 and R3 “defamed [her] character” and “made [her] life hell”.

The complainant submitted that R2, who was considerably older than her, would repeatedly tell her that he “wanted [her]”. She submitted that, without her consent, he encroached upon her personal space. He “touched her cheek, arms and upper body”. He said that he “wanted to spend time with [her]”; that “he wanted to kiss [her]”; and that he “wanted to have sex with [her]”.

She submitted that the employees knew that there was CCTV in operation in the kitchen and so R2 would follow her into the cold room to touch her. She submitted that she dreaded having to go to the cold room as she feared sexual assault and rape.

Kaur submitted that R2 behaved in a similar way in their shared accommodation.

She said that R1 and R2 wanted to “have their way with her” and “use her for sex”, but she would not allow it. Additionally, the complainant submitted that she was told that her job was a man’s job and not for her.

Adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman said Kaur lived “under the constant threat of blackmail and deportation” and that her complaints about discrimination and harassment were well founded.

She was awarded the maximum compensation, equivalent to two years remuneration, or €60,000.

Problems from day one

In her submission to the commission, she said that although she had been employed as a chef, she did not do any cooking. On her first day at work, she was told that the restaurant had enough chefs and instead she was required to wash dishes, clean the kitchen, prepare food for cooking and pack takeaway orders.

The complainant estimated that she packed approximately €4,000 worth of takeaway orders every weekend.

She said she also had many heavy-lifting duties. One weekend in March 2022 when the tandoor oven was out of service in Bombay House, she had to carry a 20kg oil drum full of marinated raw chicken, to another restaurant owned by the same company – located approximately 250 metres away – for it to be cooked. She also regularly carried large sacks of rice.

In October 2023, after carrying several containers of cooked rice, each weighing approximately 20kg, she was in significant pain and brought by ambulance to hospital and certified as unfit for work for four days.

Kaur said she worked around 50 hours per week over six days, with only a five-minute break each day.

She was unfairly dismissed on 25 November. She received no notice and did not receive pay in lieu of notice.

The €143,268 awarded to Kaur today was part of a compensation package relating to harassment, discrimination and inadequate pay.