The owners of a Crust Pizza outlet have been penalised $104,000 for discriminating against migrant workers.
They paid four migrant workers less than Australian employees.
The Federal Circuit Court said the huge penalty is designed to deter others from engaging in such blatant discrimination.
Crust Pizza underpayments
The three Bangladeshi nationals and one Indian national worked at the Crust outlet in North Hobart, Tasmania.
The franchise is operated by QHA Foods, along with company directors Anandh Kumarasamy and Haridas Raghuram.
The pair admitted paying the migrant workers a flat hourly rate of $12 for all hours worked.
As a result, they were underpaid:
- ordinary hourly rates;
- casual and evening loadings; and
- penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.
The wage theft totalled $9,926 between January and July 2016.
The employers paid the workers in cash, and failed to provide pay slips, breaching workplace laws.
In contrast, the store paid higher wages to Australian workers, including:
- ordinary rates of more than $18 an hour;
- penalty rates of up to $46.31 on public holidays.
The Australian workers had their wages paid into their bank accounts and received pay slips.
Furthermore, the migrant workers had to deliver pizzas to more distant locations than Australian employees.
They received $1.00 for each delivery, while the Australians received a cents-per-kilometre rate.
Additionally, Kumarasamy and Raghuram also breached workplace laws by providing inspectors with falsified records.
Workers were vulnerable
Judge Barbara Baker described the migrant workers as vulnerable as a result of their limited understanding of workplace laws.
Furthermore, she described the conduct towards them as “deliberate”.
Consequently, she imposed a penalty of $80,000 on QHA Foods and a penalty of $12,000 each on Kumarasamy and Raghuram.
Judge Baker said the significant penalties send a message of general deterrence to the fast food industry.
Unlawful to discriminate on basis of nationality
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says it’s unlawful to discriminate against employees on the basis of nationality.
“You cannot treat a worker less favourably than another based on their race, skin colour, social origin or their nationality,” he said.
“Employers who do can expect to have the book thrown at them – which is exactly what happened in this case.”
The employer has back-paid the workers in full.
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