The owners of a Crust Pizza franchise outlet have been penalised $104,000 after they discriminated against four migrant workers by paying them much less than Australian employees.
The Federal Circuit Court said the huge penalties were designed to deter other businesses from also engaging in such blatant discrimination and wage theft.
The four workers – three Bangladeshi nationals and one Indian national – worked at the Crust outlet located in North Hobart in Tasmania.
The franchise is operated by QHA Foods – and company directors Anandh Kumarasamy and Haridas Raghuram – who manage the store.
They admitted paying the migrant workers a flat hourly rate of $12 for all hours worked.
This resulted in significant underpayment of ordinary hourly rates, casual and evening loadings and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work they were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award.
In total, they were underpaid a total of $9,926 between January and July 2016.
The four workers were also paid in cash and were not provided with pay slips, in breach of workplace laws.
In contrast, Australian employees at the Crust Pizza outlet were paid higher minimum rates of pay and penalty rates, including being paid penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.
Six of the adult Australian employees were paid ordinary rates of more than $18 an hour and three were paid penalty rates of up to $46.31 on public holidays.
The Australian workers were allegedly also paid into their bank accounts and provided with pay slips.
In addition, the migrant workers were made to deliver pizzas to more distant locations than Australian employees and were only paid $1.00 for each delivery, while the Australians were paid a cents-per-kilometre rate.
QHA Foods, Mr Kumarasamy and Mr Raghuram also breached workplace laws by providing inspectors with falsified records.
Workers were vulnerable
In the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Barbara Baker said the four migrant workers were vulnerable due to their limited understanding of Australia’s workplace laws and the conduct towards them was deliberate.
She imposed a penalty of $80,000 on QHA Foods and a penalty of $12,000 each on Mr Kumarasamy and Mr Raghuram.
Judge Baker found that the need for general deterrence in the fast food industry was a significant factor in determining the penalties.
Unlawful to discriminate on basis of nationality
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said it is unlawful to discriminate against employees on the basis of their 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.”
All the workers have now been back paid in full.
If you are not being paid your correct wages and entitlements, or if you have experienced discrimination on the basis of your nationality, we can help.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
1300 045 466