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Italian Restaurant Operators Accused Of Underpaying Workers

Italian restaurant operators accused of underpaying workers

The operators of an Italian restaurant are facing court, accused of underpaying workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also alleges the restaurant ignored a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay the employees.

Italian restaurant accused of underpayments

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is GK Food Bars & Restaurants Pty Ltd, which operated the La Pasteria restaurant in Canberra.

Also facing court is company director George Varvaritis.

The regulator commenced an investigation following wage theft complaints from the two workers.

One worked on a casual basis as a cook from May to July 2019.

Meanwhile, the other worked as a full-time head chef from April to August 2019.

Inspectors accused the employer of failing to pay lawful minimum rates, in addition to leave entitlements and superannuation.

As a result, the inspector issued Varvaritis with a Compliance Notice requiring him to calculate and back-pay the two workers.

However, Fair Work alleges, without reasonable excuse, that he failed to do so.

No excuse for wage theft

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan welcomed the legal action.

“There is no excuse for wage theft, and it is encouraging to see the regulator enforcing workplace laws,” he said.

“Greedy bosses have been allowed to rip off their workers for far too long in this country, and it’s time those responsible for such outrageous conduct faced serious consequences.”

Penalties

As a result of the alleged wage theft, Fair Work is seeking penalties against GK Food Bars & Restaurants and Varvaritis.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to rectify any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

The company faces a maximum penalty of $31,500.

Varvaritis is facing a maximum penalty of $6,300.

The Federal Circuit Court in Canberra has a directions hearing listed in January 2021.

The restaurant is no longer operating.


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