A liquor store worker who was threatened, assaulted, called a "f***ing Indian" and "Indian dog" by his employer has been awarded $45,000 in damages for racial harassment.

Satnam Singh told the Human Rights Tribunal he suffered racial abuse, culminating in a physical assault, while employed for two months at Scorpion Liquor in Mt Roskill.

An Indian national and practicing Sikh, Satnam Singh was also paid less than minimum wage, earning between $6 and $7 an hour. Store manager Shane Singh and his mother, Raj Devi, who owns the business, did not respond to the claim and took no part in proceedings.

The decision of the tribunal said Satnam Singh took the part-time job in January 2012 after coming to New Zealand on a student visa.

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During his two months at Scorpion Liquor, Shane Singh frequently made references to "f***ing Indians", and referred to Indian students as "Indian dogs".

He also made comments about Satnam Singh's long hair, a requirement for his Sikh religion.On one occasion the worker was filmed while cleaning the shop toilet, and told "You f***ing Indians [will] always clean my s*** today and in the future".

The abuse culminated on March 6, 2012, when Shane Singh hit the student on the head with a clipboard, knocking off his turban and a cap he wore on top.

He then told Satnam Singh: "If I see you again you'll lose your turban and your teeth."

Satnam Singh did not return to the store after the incident.He told the tribunal he felt angry, distressed and belittled by the abuse, and afraid that Shane Singh and his friends would attack him, which led to depression and thoughts of suicide.

His efforts to disguise his Sikh faith to avoid abuse, including trimming his hair and beard and hiding his turban under a cap, caused anger amongst his family.The tribunal found Satnam Singh had suffered hurtful and offensive racial harassment.

The defendants were ordered to pay $45,000 in damages - $10,000 higher than was sought - for humiliation and loss of dignity.

They were also ordered to undergo training in their responsibilities under the Human Rights Act, pay $3750 in legal costs, and a restraining order was made preventing Shane Singh from continuing the abuse.

In a separate decision by the Employment Relations Authority, Scorpion Liquor was ordered to pay Satnam Singh wage arrears of $3417.12 plus interest at 5 per cent and a penalty of $1000.

Calls to the store revealed it is now under new ownership.


See the full decision here