Court date served to underpaying former restaurant operator

restaurant, cook

A former operator of a restaurant in Wollongong, New South Wales is facing legal action for alleged underpayments.

Set to face the Federal Circuit and Family Court is sole trader Shannon Duncan, who operated a restaurant that traded as Paddock to Platter until it closed, for underpaying a worker who worked as a casual food and beverage attendant from May to December 2021.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Duncan in April 2022 after determining that the worker had been underpaid minimum wages, and weekend penalty rates, under the Restaurant Industry Award 2020.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has alleged that Duncan, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required him to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Hannah said. “Employers should also be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector is a priority for the FWO.”

The FWO is seeking a penalty of up to $6,660 against Duncan for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. The regulator is also seeking a court order for Duncan to take the steps set out in the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

The next hearing date is scheduled on 12 September 2023.