THE former operator of a Donegal takeaway was found guilty of employing a non-national without a valid work permit.
Hemanta Bohora was the proprietor of the Food Guru Indian and Fast Food Takeway in Burnfoot, which was subject to an inspection in June 2019.
Bohora was charged with the employment of a non-national without an employment permit – an offence that carries a maximum fine of €3,000 or a 12-month prison sentence.
As part of a joint operation involving the Department of Social Protection, Revenue Commissioner and An Garda Síochána, an inspection was carried out on June 6, 2019.
The inspector detected individuals engaged in the frying of and preparation of food, State solicitor Mr Ciaran Liddy told Buncrana District Court.
A warrant was produced by the inspector, who made a demand for identification papers, but the individuals said they were not in possession of any documents.
Bohora informed the inspector that he was the proprietor. He accepted that he had employed people without establishing if they were entitled to work. Bohora told the inspector that they were friends who had worked at other fast food premises.
A follow-up full inspection was carried out on June 26, 2019 when the inspector observed a young lady, aged 17, working in the premises. Under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996, employers must have a copy of the birth certificate or other satisfactory evidence of the age of the young person.
While the young lady was entitled to work in the premises, the employer had not complied with the requirement.
Solicitor for Bohora, Mr Patsy Gallagher, said his client took over the business from the owner on a lease basis six months before the inspection.
“It became apparent that the administration end wasn’t working out,” Mr Gallagher said. “There was no case of exploitation here. He was fully compliant and there were no losses identified.
“He has gone back to employment as a chef, but has been off work for a year plus due to Covid. He is no longer self-employed.”
Judge Alan Mitchell fined Bohora €200 for employing the person without an employment permit and also issued a fine of €200 in respect of the employment of the young person without having obtained a birth certificate.
Judge Mitchell said: “If he were still running the business, I would be recommending a further inspection. I take into account that he is no longer running the business and put this down to a bad experience.
“Red tape is there for a reason.”