Three Hero Sushi sushi operators have been slapped with record penalties by the Federal Court for underpaying workers and providing false records.

The court found 94 employees working at three stores in Newcastle, Canberra and the Gold Coast were paid rates as low as $12, resulting in $700,832.88 in underpayments between April 2015 and July 2016.

In addition to the underpayments, the operators provided Fair Work inspectors with hundreds of false documents on 11 occasions.

The Federal Court imposed record penalties on the companies and operators, totalling $891,000.

HSCC Pty Ltd (Newcastle) and HSCK Pty Ltd (Canberra) were each fined $225,000 with HSPF Pty Ltd (Gold Coast) penalised $150,000.

Company directors and owners Deuk Hee “William” Lee and Hokun “Robert” Hwang have each been penalised $85,000, and payroll officers employed at Hero Sushi head office, Chang Seok “Tommy” Lee, Ji Won “Brian” Cho and Jung Sun “Jimmy” Kim, have been penalised $75,000, $16,000 and $30,000, respectively.

Justice Geoffrey Flick said the case was “about greed and the exploitation of the vulnerable” and that “the quantum of the penalties to be imposed has to be such that they are not seen as simply the “cost of doing business” in the fast food industry.”

The companies must now display notices of employee rights and entitlements in the workplace and commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws.

Affected employees have now been back-paid, with the Fair Work Ombudsman holding sums for employees who have yet to be located.

“The penalties imposed against Hero Sushi are the largest ever achieved as a result of a Fair Work Ombudsman litigation and demonstrate that employers who deliberately exploit vulnerable workers will face serious consequences,” added Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker.

Image credit: Hero Sushi


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