Because no one messes with Satinder Kaur Grewal

Because no one messes with Satinder Kaur Grewal

How this 22-year-old international student gave a voice to exploited employees

Photograph by Baljit Singh

In the spring of 2020, Satinder Kaur Grewal—a 22-year-old international student who was struggling to find work during the pandemic—applied for a job at Chat Hut, a South Asian restaurant in Brampton. The owners hired her and even offered to help with her permanent residency application.

The next six months were a nightmare. Grewal alleged that she cooked, cleaned and served, 12-plus hours a day, for days on end without a break—all while earning less than minimum wage under the table. In December, she finally stood up to her bosses. They refused to change her working conditions, so she quit, teamed up with the Naujawan Support Network—an organization that protects international workers from exploitation—and filed a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

In a settlement this past February, Grewal got $16,000 in unpaid wages. Her courage made international headlines, transforming a bleak and all-too-common tale of workplace abuse into an inspiration to undervalued workers everywhere.

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