A young Chinese journalist who says she was forced to pay her own wages to her boss has been awarded $19,000 in an Employment Relations Authority decision.
Ling Lin, in her 20s, arrived in New Zealand in 2001.
She graduated from Victoria University after completing a degree in media studies and took up a position as a journalist for Auckland-based Chinese language newspaper New Times in 2008.
Ms Lin was granted a two-year work permit that year, but an application for permanent residence was declined in February 2010.
Immigration officials said there were discrepancies in pay records and evidence of Ms Lin reimbursing New Times for her salary.
Ms Lin claimed she had had to pay $6000 in "guarantee money" before starting work, as a kind of bond.
She also claimed to have effectively paid for her own wages - having been told to hand over $2500 to the newspaper each month.
She wanted the authority to order that she be repaid just over $63,000 in lost wages.
Authority member Ken Anderson said the case was "among the most difficult that I have ever had to determine" because of factors including language barriers and conflicting and unreliable evidence.
"I have made findings that [Ms] Lin was required to pay the sums of $6000 and $5000 respectively to New Times and/or Ms Zhou [Sandy, the managing director], as shown by tangible or probative evidence that this was so. Orders have been made accordingly."
The authority ordered New Times Press to pay Ms Lin a total of $11,000, while managing director Ms Zhou was ordered to pay Ms Lin a total of $8000.
Mr Anderson also ordered that both the newspaper and Ms Zhou pay penalty fines that totalled $14,000, which would be paid to the authority and subsequently paid to the Crown.
Mr Anderson said there was a lack of substantial evidence to show that Ms Lin had made payments to the sum of $63,165.
He therefore ruled that her claim for reimbursement of that amount was not proven.