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Restaurant Boss Makes Bizarre Request Before Back-paying Worker

Restaurant boss makes bizarre request before back-paying worker

A restaurant boss made a bizarre request before agreeing to back-pay a worker.

The man insisted the worker sign a statement claiming someone “kidnapped” her and “forced her to work against her will”.

After the employer ignored several requests to back-pay the worker, the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action to recover the money.

Restaurant boss makes bizarre request

The employee started working at the Curry Garden Indian Restaurant in Bendigo in May 2016.

David Anderson owned the restaurant and paid her an illegal flat rate of $12.50 an hour, later increasing to $15.50 an hour.

However, he should have paid her $16.57 an hour for normal hours and up to $34.11 for weekend and public holiday work.

As a result of the wage theft, the worker missed out on over $5,000.

Court not impressed by conduct

The Federal Circuit Court subsequently penalised Anderson, and his company, Sona Peaks, which he owns with his wife, $15,500.

Judge Grant Riethmuller found Anderson ignored a Fair Work Compliance Notice to rectify the underpayments.

Bizarrely, Anderson refused the request.

Instead, he demanded the worker provide a statement that someone kidnapped her and forced her to work at the restaurant against her will.

“Not surprisingly, the Fair Work inspector advised that such bizarre conditions would not be met,” Judge Riethmuller noted.

Riethmuller found Anderson responded by “claiming that the employee had agreed with the rates that were paid and not complained about the rates”.

Anderson only agreed to back-pay the worker after Fair Work started legal action. 

Underpayments ‘deliberate’

Judge Riethmuller said Anderson had shown no remorse for what he described as “deliberate” breaches of workplace laws.

He labelled Anderson’s decision to ignore the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Compliance Notice as “extraordinary”.

He said there is a need to impose a penalty to:

“recognise the importance of general deterrence, particularly given that this contravention occurred in an industry where rates of non-compliance with the minimum obligations to employees are high.”

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Fair Work Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.

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