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IGA Supermarket Operator Cops Hefty $320,000 Penalty For Wage Theft

IGA supermarket operator cops hefty $320,000 penalty for wage theft

An IGA supermarket operator has copped a hefty $320,000 penalty for wage theft.

The employer ripped off six workers, and then failed to comply with an order to pay them back.

The Federal Circuit Court described the underpayments as deliberate and said there is a need for a general and specific deterrence.

Underpayments happened despite warnings

Said “Sam” Haddad operates IGA supermarkets at Fairfield and Altona in Melbourne.

The court penalised him $53,377, and his two companies a further $157,950 and $108,936 respectively.

Haddad admitted to underpaying six employees a total of $11,373 between November 2013 and November 2015.

The wage theft happened despite the Fair Work Ombudsman previously warning Haddad about his workplace obligations.

Haddad is also a member of the Master Grocers Association, which also provided him with information about employee entitlements.

More complaints

Fair Work commenced an investigation following complaints about wage theft from employees at the two supermarkets.

Inspectors found Haddad underpaid two workers at the Altona IGA a total of $7,466 and four employees at the Fairfield IGA a total of $3,907.

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says deliberate wage theft can bankrupt a business.

“Mr Haddad stole $11,000 from his workers, and as a result, he now has to pay $320,000 in penalties,” he said.

Falsified records

The court found Haddad also falsified records to show he paid the employees the correct award rates when he had not.

Judge Heather Riley found the underpayments had been deliberate.

She said there is a “considerable need in this case for both general and specific deterrence”.

“It seems to me that the conduct of the respondents in this case was egregious. It was deliberate.

“There has been no apology to the employees affected by the respondents’ conduct.”

Haddad has subsequently back-paid the workers in full.

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