Court imposes penalty after restaurant operators refuse to back-pay workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that the former operators of a Bendigo restaurant who repeatedly short-changed their employees have been fined a total of $142,000 following legal action by the Agency.

Sona Peaks Pty Ltd, which previously operated the Curry Garden Indian Restaurant in Victoria's Goldfields region, has been fined $118,650.

The Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne has also imposed a further penalty of $23,715 against the company's sole director and part-owner, David Peter Anderson.

The penalties are the result of an investigation and legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to nine casual and part-time employees who were underpaid $11,201 between October, 2012 and September, 2013.

The Court has also ordered Sona Peaks to back-pay the workers their outstanding entitlements in full.

It is the second time the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured Court-issued penalties in relation to underpayments at the Curry Garden Indian Restaurant.

Earlier in 2015, Sona Peaks and Mr Anderson were fined a total of $15,500 for refusing to back-pay another employee who was owed more than $5000.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the Court has made it clear that recalcitrant employers who repeatedly underpay their staff will face serious financial consequences.

Judge John O'Sullivan found that the case involved deliberate underpayments of vulnerable workers and said the penalties imposed should deter others from similar conduct.

In his judgment, Judge O'Sullivan said that Mr Anderson and Sona Peaks were "abundantly aware of their obligations and the consequences of a breach" and found they had shown no contrition.

Ms James said employers should be aware that the Fair Work Ombudsman treats underpayments of young workers and overseas workers particularly seriously because they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their entitlements or reluctant to complain.
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