Two massage parlour operators are facing court for stealing $900,000 in wages and threatening to kill the families of workers who complained.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking court orders requiring the employer to back-pay the workers in full.
Additionally, the regulator wants the court to order the employer to pay additional compensation for the loss and damage the workers allegedly suffered.
Boss threatened to kill the families of workers
Colin Elvin, once owned the ‘foot&thai’ massage parlour in Belconnen along with supervisor Jun Puerto.
Both are facing the Federal Court for allegedly exploiting seven Filipino workers over three and a half years.
They allegedly underpaid the workers a total of $912,809, in addition to coercion, discrimination and adverse action.
Individual underpayments to workers allegedly ranged from $11,263 to $149,557.
“SERVICE STATION CHAIN ACCUSED OF DELIBERATE AND SYSTEMATIC WAGE THEFT”
Workers recruited in Philippines
Elvin’s company allegedly recruited the six women and one man in the Philippines.
The company promised annual salaries of $52,000, but once in Australia, Elvin allegedly made them work 65 to 68 hours a week, but paid them for just 38.
Elvin and Puerto allegedly forced some of the employees to pay-back $800 of their wages every fortnight when they deemed the business did not generate enough income.
Furthermore, the men transported the workers to and from the massage parlour in a van each working day to special accommodation.
There, the gates were locked overnight to stop them from leaving.
It is also alleged that both Elvin and Puerto told the workers that Elvin would arrange to have their families in the Philippines killed if they complained about their working conditions.
The Federal police investigated the matter, however, did not lay criminal charges.
Shocking case of exploitation
Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says the case is a shocking example of worker exploitation.
“These allegations involve wage theft, discrimination and coercion all in one – what a disgusting way to treat vulnerable workers,” he said.
“And to allegedly threaten the lives of their families if they complained, well, how low can you get.”
“MASSAGE PARLOUR WORKERS SACKED FOR FALLING IN LOVE WIN UNFAIR DISMISSAL”
Fair Work also alleges discrimination
In addition to the alleged underpayments, the unlawful coercion, and adverse action, Fair Work also allege Elvin and Puerto discriminated against the employees based on their race.
Fair Work is seeking penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention for foot & thai massage.
Additionally, the regulator is seeking up to $10,800 per contravention against Elvin and Puerto for multiple alleged contraventions of workplace laws.
The Federal Court has the matter listed later this month.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on