The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the director of a company that formerly operated a restaurant and hotel in Hobart, Tasmania.
Facing court is Gary Dupree, who is a part-owner and director of Garich Pty Ltd, a company now in liquidation. It formerly operated the Solstice Café Restaurant in Salamanca and a restaurant and accommodation business, Jimmy D’s Bar and Grill and The Moonah Hotel, in Moonah.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated during an auditing activity targeting Hobart food precincts and their compliance with legislation.
Fair Work inspector believed 31 staff being underpaid
A Fair Work Inspector issued two Compliance Notices to Garich in October 2020 after forming a belief that 31 waiting and kitchen staff were underpaid between July 2018 and February 2020.
They were allegedly underpaid entitlements including minimum wage rates, casual loadings, annual leave entitlements, and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and night work. The employees included a number of visa holders and young workers.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Dupree was involved in Garich’s failure, without reasonable excuse, to fully comply with the Compliance Notices, which required the company to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements. It further alleges that he was also involved in the company committing a breach of record-keeping laws.
Ombudsman attempted to secure voluntary compliance
“In line with the FWO’s proportionate approach to regulation during the Covid-19 pandemic, the FWO made several attempts to secure voluntary compliance before commencing legal action,” the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.
“Where business operators do not respond to or comply with [Compliance] Notices, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties for not complying with such a Notice, in addition to back-paying workers, as appropriate,” Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, stated.
Dupree faces penalties of up to $6,300 per breach for the alleged Compliance Notice breaches, and a penalty of up to $12,600 for the alleged record-keeping breach.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Hobart on 21 July.