Bosses hit with $60K fine for gang threat

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Three “horrified” employers have denied hiring a gang-member to threaten former workers after the Employment Relations Authority fined them $20,000 each for the offence.

Kalpana Nandni and three former colleagues were pursuing a case with the ERA when she was allegedly visited at her home by a man with a “Black Power” facial tattoo. The man came late at night and warned Nandni that she shouldn’t attend the upcoming employment case.

According to Nandi, the man said; “You people are really in danger, some people are after you and if you do go to attend the case something bad could happen to you and it's better if you don't attend.”

Despite the man’s advice, the four workers continued their claim and it was found that Chirag Ahuja, Neelam Ahuja and Rhythm Ahuja – all directors of now-defunct clothing companies – had underpaid staff. They were ordered to reimburse their former workers a total of $68,782.

The labour inspectorate also alerted the authority that two of the former employees had been threatened and a second hearing was scheduled to find out if the Ahujas had attempted to obstruct the authority.

At the subsequent hearing, member of the authority Eleanor Robinson said it was likely the trio were behind the visit as the man had detailed information about the case which indicated he had been sent by someone involved.

She also stressed that it was important any penalty would not only serve as a punishment to the offenders but also act as a deterrent to anyone who may consider similar tactics in the future.

Robinson ordered each of the three Ahujas to pay $10,000 for each of the two counts of intimidation, with half to go to Nandni and former colleague Renuka Kumar and the remainder to the Crown.

However, the Ahujas’ lawyer, Greg Bennet, said his clients maintained their innocence and were “horrified” such an amount had been awarded against them. He also said the decision would be appealed.

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