The operators of Barry Café have been hit with $232,545 in penalties after deliberately underpaying 73 workers.
Barry Café deliberate wage theft
Barry Café in Northcote is run by siblings Stavros and Anastasia Petroulias and Malevi Pty Ltd – a company they part-own.
The court found they deliberately and knowingly exploited staff, including many vulnerable young migrant workers.
The wage theft happened between April 2017 and April 2018, with workers paid flat rates of $18 to $25 an hour.
Mr and Mrs Petroulias failed to pay staff proper minimum wages, penalty rates and casual loadings.
Individual underpayments ranged from $31 to $12,315.
The court also found Barry Café contravened adverse action laws by not offering further shifts to an employee who asked about his unlawfully low rates.
Barry Café was one of the first venues targeted by the Hospo Voice Union.
The group staged a number of noisy protests outside the café, attracting wide media coverage.
“CAFE WORKERS GO PUBLIC OVER UNDERPAYMENTS”
The Federal Circuit Court penalised Mr and Ms Petroulias $33,919 and $29,030 respectively.
It also penalised Malevi Pty Ltd an additional $169,596.
In addition, the Court ordered them to back-pay their staff in full.
What the court said
Judge Heather Riley said the exploitation of vulnerable workers aggravated the wage theft.
She also noted Mr Petroulias and Ms Petroulias had failed to display genuine contrition.
“I do not accept that the respondents are genuinely contrite.
“Rather, I consider that they are very sorry that they have been caught, and are facing a substantial penalty.”
Finally, Judge Riley said the hefty penalties will deter Mr Petroulias and Ms Petroulias and others from stealing from their workers.
“The hospitality industry is notorious for its underpayment of employees, and noncompliance with other industrial obligations.”
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