The former operator of a Bondi bar and restaurant has been slugged with a huge $164,635 penalty for ‘extensive and deliberate’ wage theft.
The company failed to comply with Compliance Notices requiring it to back-pay eight workers a total of $24,412 to eight workers.
She also knowingly provided false documents and information to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Bondi bar slugged with huge penalty
The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed a $137,196 penalty against Upper East Side Bondi Pty Ltd.
The company operated ‘Upper East Side Bondi’ until it closed.
The court also imposed an additional $27,439 penalty against the company’s former director, Julia Rose Gelonese.
In response to wage theft complaints from eight workers, Fair Work issued two Compliance Notices to Upper East Side in November 2020.
An inspector claimed the company had failed to pay lawful minimum wages, overtime, evening and weekend penalty rates.
The company also provided false documents to Fair Work Inspectors on 12 separate occasions between January and May 2021.
The documents falsely suggested the employer had back-paid the workers when it had not.
‘Extensive and deliberate’
Judge Nicholas Manousaridis found that the false-documents-and-information contraventions were “extensive, and by their nature deliberate”.
He also said that he had no doubt that Ms Gelonese knew of the nature and significance of the Compliance Notices – due to the previous proceedings.
Judge Manousaridis found that there was a need to impose penalties to deter employers from failing to comply with Compliance Notices.
“The penalties should be set at a level that signals to all persons who are involved in responding to a compliance notice… that there would be no advantage in giving false or misleading information intentionally or recklessly,” Judge Manousaridis said.
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Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said employers who ignore Compliance Notices are making a costly mistake.
“Not only does Ms Gelonese have to back-pay what she owes her workers, she also has to pay more than one hundred thousand dollars in penalties,” Mr Heffernan said.
“If you receive a Compliance Notice – make sure you comply.”
Mr Heffernan advised any worker who is not being paid their lawful wages and entitlements to contact fairworkclaims.com.au today.
“Our team knows wage theft laws intimately and has extensive experience recovering every last cent for our clients,” he said.
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Fair Work Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.