An Auckland hairdresser who was paid just $10 an hour has been awarded $40,110 by the Employment Relations Authority.

Da-som Lee began her three month trial at Wave by Peter Kwon on High St, Auckland in May 2017 where she alleges she was told by her manager, Peter Kwon, that her pay would be $14 an hour during the trial and increase thereafter.

At the time the minimum wage rate was $15.75 per hour.

During her three month trial Lee worked two days a week from 9:30am to 7pm.


However, during the first week of September 2017 her pay was reduced to $10 per hour, she told the authority.

Kwon claimed that he told Lee that he had no position available for her after the trial ended, however she was welcome to come into the salon for practise purposes to improve her hairdressing skills.

But Lee denied Kwon's claims, saying her days of employment increased to four days a week after her trial period ended and her duties included cleaning, shampooing, and handling client bookings.

Lee resigned in July 2018 after the job began to take a toll on her health, a result of which she alleged came from frequent criticism from her manager, including in front of staff and customers.

Lee took salon owner Peter & Naomi Limited to the Employment Relations Authority claiming she had been unjustifiably disadvantaged in her employment and constructively dismissed.

In its ruling, the authority found in favour of Lee.

"After the three month trial period ended I find that the work Lee performed in the salon amounted to more than practise and for which she received payment," the authority said.

"The medical evidence provided by Lee supports her evidence that the experiences she had at the salon, which included frequent criticism from Kwon, adversely affected her health to the point at which she was unable to continue in employment."


Peter & Naomi Limited were ordered to pay Lee $15,444 in lost wages, $15,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation and $9666 in unpaid wages and holiday pay.

Peter & Naomi Limited were also penalised $4000 for failing to provide Lee with a written employment agreement and minimum wage breaches.