Italian restaurant served with FWO orders over alleged underpayments

The operators of a Melboourne-based Italian restaurantare set to face the Federal Circuit Court over allegations they underpaid a waiter over a 15-month period.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Champagne or Wine Pty Ltd, the operators of the Mother Dough Italian restaurant, and company directors Jeffrey Baldassarre and Allison Barnes, were involved in the underpayment of an employee in his early twenties who worked as a waiter on a casual basis at the restaurant between June 2018 and September 2019.

The FWO allege that the employee was underpaid the casual minimum wage and penalty rates for evening and weekend work he was entitled to under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Champagne or Wine Pty Ltd in July 2020 as a result. However, the company, without reasonable excuse, reportedly failed to comply with the Compliance Notice which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements. It also reportedly failed to comply with a Notice to Produce records issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman during its investigation.

The FWO is seeking penalties against Champagne or Wine Pty Ltd of up to $33,300 for the alleged Compliance Notice contravention and a penalty of up to $63,000 for allegedly failing to comply with the Notice to Produce, while Baldassarre and Barnes each face a maximum penalty of $6660 for the alleged Compliance Notice contravention and up to $12,600 for the alleged Notice to Produce contravention.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 23 April 2021.

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