The operator of a food outlet is facing court, accused of stealing the wages of a 71 year-old cook.
The alleged wage theft meant the elderly worker effectively went for eight weeks without being paid any wages.
Restaurant accused of stealing wages
Facing court is Luke McGrath, who previously owned and operated a number of ‘Wok Me’ outlets in Queensland and the ACT.
He is accused of stealing a total of $12,658 from the elderly employee over a period of just four months.
The man worked as a cook at the ‘Wok Me’ outlet in Rockhampton.
The employee is an Australian citizen born and raised in China.
The Fair Work Ombudsman accuses McGrath of paying the cook illegal flat rates – ranging from $20.92 to $25.20 per hour – when he paid him at all.
As a result, McGrath failed to pay the minimum hourly rate, in addition to failing to pay overtime, annual leave and superannuation.
McGrath also allegedly failed to keep proper records and provide pay slips.
Previous warnings about stealing wages
As it turns out, McGrath has form.
Fair Work inspectors had previously warned him for failing to comply with workplace laws.
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Older workers vulnerable to exploitation
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said older workers are vulnerable to exploitation.
“Older workers have limited job opportunities, so they are reluctant to complain,” he said.
“The system must protect older workers who want to work from exploitation.
“If the court finds the allegations proven, I hope the judge imposes hefty penalties on Mr McGrath.”
UPDATE TO STORY
In September 2018, McGrath admitted to stealing the wages in addition to the superannuation and other entitlements of the 71 year-old cook.
The Federal Circuit Court subsequently penalised him $12,096 and his company an additional $60,480.
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