A greedy boss has been penalised $72,500 for stealing wages from a 71 year-old cook.
The Federal Circuit Court penalised Luke McGrath $12,096 and his company an additional $60,480 for the wage theft.
Greedy boss penalised for stealing wages
McGrath previously ran a number of ‘Wok Me’ fast food takeaway outlets.
The cook, an Australian citizen from China, worked at a Wok Me outlet in Rockhampton.
The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced an investigation after the man made a wage theft complaint.
Investigators found McGrath paid flat rates as low as $21 an hour, well below the legal minimum rates stipulated in the relevant award.
The underpayments totalled $12,658 over a period of just four months.
They were so significant that the cook effectively worked for eight weeks without receiving any money.
McGrath also failed to pay the man his full annual leave and superannuation entitlements.
Older workers vulnerable to exploitation
Newly appointed Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator priorities complaints from vulnerable workers.
“Mature age employees can be vulnerable in the workplace as they face fewer opportunities and are therefore often reluctant to complain,” she said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman took court action against Wok Me because we prioritise matters involving the underpayment of vulnerable employees.
“All businesses are legally obliged to ensure they are aware of the minimum wage rates and entitlements for all of their employees.”
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan wants greedy bosses like McGrath to face criminal penalties.
“This is a case of blatant and deliberate wage theft,” he said.
“Wage theft is stealing, therefore Mr McGrath should face stealing charges and criminal convictions and even jail time.”
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In addition to the penalties, Judge Gregory Egan ordered McGrath to conduct audits of his businesses to check for additional underpayments.
Judge Egan also ordered McGrath to complete all education courses for employers on the FWO website.
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