In 2002, Mohammad Younis arrived in the state from Pakistan to work as a chef in the restaurant Poppadom in Dublin, owned by his cousin, Amjad Hussein. Since then, Mr. Younis alleged that he has been grossly mistreated, working seven days a week with no holidays to earn “pocket money,” paid in cash. He has been undocumented since his original work permit expired in 2003, and he claims that Mr. Hussein has retained his Pakistani passport. In 2011, the Labour Court found that he had been exploited, and awarded him €92,000, including over €86,000 in back pay since September 2002. Mr. Hussein appealed this decision, stating that he wasn’t properly legally represented in the original trial, Mr. Younis had made false claims in the original trial and that the counsel had just accepted whatever story they were told without investigating the veracity. He also claimed that Mr. Younis was well aware of his undocumented status, and had the opportunity to return to Pakistan at any point.
Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the award must be quashed because of Mr. Younis’s illegal status in the State. Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan, who delivered the opinion, acknowledged that Mr. Younis had been “the victim of the most appalling exploitation by his employer,” but that “While this conclusion seems to me to be inescapable on the application of established legal principles, it is not a result which yields much satisfaction.” In 2003, the Oireachtas ruled that “a contract of employment involving a non-national was substantively illegal in the absence of a permit.” Mr. Justice Hogan felt obliged, therefore, to quash the award, since Mr. Younis had been working here illegally, but he sent a copy of his judgment over to the “Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Minister for Employment” for review, since the judge believes that the original policy of 2003 was not intended to be used as a an excuse to exploit illegal workers.
There are several articles from the Irish times reporting on this decision from the High Court, and they discuss the potentially devastating effect of this ruling on illegal workers in the State. Mr. Justice Hogan stated, “If, however, that legislation [the policy of 2003] is applied in a rigorous and unyielding manner it might have serious consequences for vulnerable migrants who found themselves exploited by unscrupulous employers.”