Business fined $90,000 for underpaying staff

by Janie Smith20 Aug 2014
Hundreds of workers at Sydney carwash outlets were underpaid in what the Federal Court described as “deliberate and calculated” conduct by the chain’s operators.

Crystal Carwash Café was fined a total of $70,000, while director and part-owner Anthony Sahade was fined $10,000.

Peter Khouri, who was responsible for the company’s payroll, was also fined $10,000.

An investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that more than 350 employees had been underpaid by more than $177,000.

Justice Robert Buchanan found that the employees, many of whom were young and from non-English-speaking backgrounds, were “particularly vulnerable” and the employer had taken advantage of that.

Ombudsman Natalie James said that it was unacceptable for employers to rip off overseas workers.

She said in this situation, many of the employees were paid a flat rate of $13 an hour, when they were entitled to more than $21 an hour for overtime.

Justice Buchanan found that the employer’s decision to pay the flat rate, regardless of award entitlements, was “deliberate and calculated”.

The company was also uncooperative during the investigation and Justice Buchanan said its cooperation during the court process was due to self-interest, rather than a “desire to assist the administration of justice”.

“I see no evidence of contrition,” he said. 

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