Two women who were the alleged victims of a shocking assault in an Adelaide shop on Friday have hit back at what they say are attempts by their former employer to distance themselves from the attack.
In a statement issued publicly on social media through their representatives at the Working Women’s Centre, the women – who do not wish their names to be made public – offer their side of the circumstances leading up to the assault that was caught on video and shared widely on the internet.
In the statement, the women, aged 20 and 22, say they worked as employees of the shop for five months and three weeks respectively, where they claim they were paid $10 and $12 an hour each.
They say an argument began when they confronted their employer about alleged unpaid wages.
They allege a man who is a friend of the owner carried out the assault. In the statement, the women say the man had been visiting the establishment with his family prior to the incident, and had been given free drinks and desserts by the owner.
“Our client entirely rejects any assertion that the assault was not in relation to a complaint about her pay. Our client was asking to be paid her wages for that night and the two weeks prior. This is clear from the video,” the statement said.
The statement makes clear the women have had no contact with either of the men since the incident, they did not publish the video online and they were “shocked to see that the video was uploaded and that it went viral”.
The comments come in response to a statement apparently from the owners, taped to the door of the establishment on Wednesday, saying the attack had nothing to do with unpaid wages.
“The incident arose following a previous verbal argument which the female employee had had with the customer,” the shop statement said.
“The alleged assault was not connected to a complaint about the employee’s pay or rates of pay.
“The management and owners … deplore violence of any sort, and have zero tolerance for assaults or violence.
The shop statement stressed that the person arrested is not an employee of the business and not officially associated with the company.
A man was arrested on Tuesday night and charged by police.
Police allege that the 39-year-old man from Glen Osmond is the same man that was captured on video striking one of the women.
The incident occurred in front of patrons and the 20-year-old woman was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to the Royal Adelaide hospital for treatment.
The man has since been bailed and will appear in the Adelaide magistrates court on 7 May while the police investigation continues.
The video provoked condemnation from Adelaide’s Chinese community, members of which expressed their anger online about the treatment of the woman.
The exchange captured in the video begins when the young woman appears to challenge the owner, asking why he won’t pay her wages.
“I don’t owe you a wage,” the owner says in the video, “so what should I pay you for?”
From there the situation quickly escalates. Another man in a black T-shirt – allegedly the man who has been arrested – slaps the woman in the face, beginning a scuffle. When the woman retaliates, he appears to kick her across the room.
Others immediately become involved while patrons look on, with another woman attempting to stop the man from moving towards the woman.
The video shows she too is pushed across the room by him.
Guardian Australia has attempted to contact the owner of the shop for comment.