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Fighting For Australian Workers Who Have Had Their Wages Stolen By Their Boss
Heartless Boss Ripped Off Workers To See ‘what He Could Get Away With’

Heartless boss ripped off workers to see ‘what he could get away with’

A greedy and heartless cafe manager stole more than $24,500 from his workers just to see “what he could get away with”.

The extraordinary admission was made by Steven Chung, the former manager of the Oliver Brown chocolate cafe outlet on the Gold Coast.

12 workers underpaid

Chung was penalised $27,500 by the Federal Circuit Court for underpaying the 12 workers over a period of just nine months in 2015.

Seven of the employees were from overseas on different working visas.

Four were juniors including two 18 year-olds.

They were employed to wash dishes, take orders and make drinks and desserts.

Chung paid them various flat rates which meant he failed to pay them their legal minimum hourly rate, casual loadings and penalty rates for weekend, late night and public holiday work.

The total of the wage theft was $24,575 with the largest single underpayment being $9,188 of a Korean worker who was paid as little as $10 an hour.

Chung also failed to provide proper pay slips to workers.

Wage theft ‘deliberate’

Judge Salvatore Vasta found the wage theft was deliberate, and said Chung targeted particularly vulnerable workers to steal from, because they were either young, or on visas.

“There doesn’t appear to be any other explanation as to why there were some rates given to some people and other rates to others, except when one looks at the personal and cultural background of the workers,” Judge Vasta said.

“It would seem that a worker on a visa who came from a non-English speaking background was certainly underpaid more than a person who is a permanent resident of this country from an English-speaking background.”

Judge Vasta noted the enormous impact the wage theft had on the workers.

“For persons who are on the minimum wage, such sums are quite crucial just simply to their existence and, for that reason, actions that result in their not being paid properly cannot be simply dismissed as being ‘minor infractions’,” Judge Vasta said.

Nothing more than a common thief

Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at WAGETHEFT.net.au said he was appalled by the case.

“Mr Chung is nothing more than a common thief, stealing from people who couldn’t stick up for themselves, what a scumbag,” he said.

“Those who commit systemic and deliberate wage theft should face criminal prosecution, just like any other common thief would, and the sooner governments around the country toughen up the law in this area, the better.

“We need to see people like Mr Chung face criminal convictions and even jail time, just like every other thief does, and maybe that will make them think twice before stealing wages from their workers.”

Mr Heffernan has made a submission to the current wage theft inquiry in Queensland, in which he has called on the government to make wage theft a criminal offence.

All the cafe workers have now been back paid in full.


If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.

Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on

1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)

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