Record penalty against Townsville café operator
The former operator of a café in Townsville in regional Queensland has been hit with a record penalty after ignoring a Fair Work Commission order to compensate an employee who was unfairly dismissed.
Theo Sourlos, who formerly owned and ran the Three Beans and a Chef café, has been fined $9000 and his company Port Douglas Investments Pty Ltd a further $45,000, in the Federal Circuit Court.
The total $54,000 penalty is a record for Fair Work Ombudsman legal action relating to unfair dismissal compensation.
Port Douglas Investments Pty Ltd was ordered to pay $6200 compensation to an employee in 2016, after Fair Work found the employee, a café assistant and manager, had been unfairly dismissed in 2015.
The employee contacted Fair Work seeking assistance after the compensation was not paid and inspectors made several requests for Sourlos and his company to comply with the order.
Sourlos continued to refuse to pay the compensation, advising an inspector that the worker would “get nothing out of me”. Since Fair Work commenced legal action, Sourlos has now paid the worker the outstanding compensation.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the agency is prepared to use every tool at its disposal to ensure legal orders are complied with and justice is served.
“People who are the subject of orders by the Fair Work Commission, or a court as result of action taken under workplace laws, must appreciate the seriousness of those orders,” she says.
“Any party thinking they can simply ignore court or tribunal orders made in relation to their workplace obligations should take note: we will use every lever open to us to ensure that those parties comply with the legal orders made against them.”