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Sushi Store Operator Penalised A Whopping $383,600 For Wage Theft

Sushi store operator penalised a whopping $383,600 for wage theft

A sushi store operator has been penalised a whopping $383,600 for wage theft.

The operator underpaid 31 workers more than $70,000 at three ‘Tokyo Sushi’ stores in regional New South Wales. 

Fair Work inspectors discovered the wage theft during an audit of dozens of sushi outlets across Queensland, Canberra, and New South Wales.

Sushi store operator penalised

The Federal Circuit Court penalised Kiyoshi Hasegawa $63,936 and two companies she and her family own, $150,120 and $169,560 respectively.

Hasegawa admitted ripping off 16 employees at two Tokyo Sushi outlets on the Central Coast a total of $48,318.

Additionally, she admitted underpaying 15 workers at a Tokyo Sushi outlet in Newcastle a total of $22,567.

Hasegawa paid the workers hourly rates as low as $9 or $10.

As a result, she failed to pay:

  • the legal minimum hourly rate,
  • casual loadings and
  • penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.

And furthermore, she failed to pay superannuation and failed to keep proper wage records.

Vulnerable workers

The affected staff were vulnerable workers, either because they were visa holders, or junior employees.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says improving workplace compliance in the fast food industry is a priority.

“Young migrant workers can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation if they are reluctant to complain due to visa concerns or unaware of their workplace rights.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman takes the blatant underpayment of vulnerable workers particularly seriously, which has been supported by the Court’s substantial penalty.”

Sandra Parker – Fair Work Ombudsman.

Judge says ‘no excuse’ for ‘serious’ wage theft

Judge Philip Dowdy described the contraventions as “serious” adding there is “no excuse” for them.

“The simple fact of the matter is that persons who engage in business activities which necessitate the employment of staff are under a strict obligation to pay their staff the just entitlements of the staff in accordance with law, whether the relevant employer is a major corporation or, as here, a family business.

“Employees are entitled to respect and part of that respect is to pay them their full entitlements which must be recognised and known to the employer.”

Judge Dowdy says the penalties should deter Hasegawa and “others who might be inclined to contravene the Fair Work Act in a similar fashion”.

Jail sentences better than penalties

Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims believes wage theft is a crime and wants courts to treat it as such.

“We say wage theft is a crime, just like all forms of theft, and as such, it should attract criminal penalties including convictions and jail sentences,” he said.

“It’s time the government did something about it and passed tougher legislation.”

Please call our specialist team at Fair Work Claims today on

1300 324 748

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