According to the Ombudsman’s website, 111 mostly teenage employees, including one aged 13, had been underpaid by a total of $258,000 between 2009 and 2012 while working at La Porchetta outlets in Pakenham and Berwick in Melbourne.
A complaint from a parent of a young staff member led to an investigation by the Ombudsman, who discovered that the underpayment of the individual employees ranged from $3 to $25,358.
The case went to the Federal Circuit Court, where it was revealed that employees were given half-priced pizza and soft drink, which was “offset” against their wages and entitlements.
In his decision, Judge John O’Sullivan said that such a practice “belongs in the dark ages”.
Serious record-keeping contraventions were also discovered, which Judge O’Sullivan described as “fundamental and flagrant”.
Bound for Glory Enterprises and Zillion Zenith International, which operate the restaurants, were each fined $139,507.50.
Ruby Chand, the US-based owner of both franchises, was fined a further $55,803.
Two restaurant operators are $334,818 out of pocket after the Fair Work Ombudsman discovered that they were paying teenage employees in pizza and soft drink instead of wages.