The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the director of company that formerly operated a restaurant and hotel in Hobart.
Facing court is Gary Dupree, who is a part-owner and director of Garich Pty Ltd (now in liquidation), which formerly operated the Solstice Café Restaurant in Salamanca and a restaurant and accommodation business, Jimmy D’s Bar and Grill and The Moonah Hotel, in Moonah.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated during an auditing activity targeting Hobart food precincts.
A Fair Work Inspector issued two Compliance Notices to Garich in October 2020 after forming a belief that 31 wait and kitchen staff were underpaid under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 and the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 between July 2018 and February 2020.
They were allegedly underpaid entitlements including minimum wage rates, casual loadings, annual leave entitlements, and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and night work.
The employees included a number of visa holders and young workers.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Mr Dupree was involved in Garich’s failure, without reasonable excuse, to fully comply with the Compliance Notices, which required the company to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements.
The FWO alleges that Mr Dupree was also involved in the company committing a breach of record-keeping laws.
In line with the FWO’s proportionate approach to regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FWO made several attempts to secure voluntary compliance before commencing legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors to deal with apparent contraventions of the Fair Work Act or industrial instruments, most typically Modern Awards,” Ms Parker said.
“Where business operators do not respond to or comply with these Notices, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties for not complying with such a Notice, in addition to back-paying workers as appropriate. Any employees with concerns about their pay should contact the FWO.”
Mr Dupree faces penalties of up to $6,300 per breach for the alleged Compliance Notice breaches and a penalty of up to $12,600 for the alleged record-keeping breach.
The regulator will also seeking a court order for any penalties paid by Mr Dupree to be distributed to the affected employees to partially rectify the alleged underpayments.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Hobart on 21 July 2021.