The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a Sydney cafe.
Facing court are Blue Mist Entertainment Pty Ltd, which operates the Blue Mist Café in Bankstown, and cafe manager Diaa Mohamed.
The regulator commenced its investigation of the café after an employee, an international student from the Phillipines, lodged a request for assistance.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Blue Mist Entertainment in September 2020 after forming a belief the employee had not been paid any wages for seven days of work she performed at Blue Mist Café in July 2020.
The employee was allegedly owed minimum wages, as well as penalty rates for weekend work under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.
The FWO alleges the company without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements. Mr Mohamed was allegedly involved in the breach.
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.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors to deal with apparent contraventions of the Fair Work Act or industrial instruments, most typically Modern Awards,” Ms Parker said.
“Where employers do not respond to or comply with these 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.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”
The FWO is seeking penalties against Blue Mist Entertainment Pty Ltd and Mr Mohamed. The company faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Mohamed faces a penalty of up to $6,660.
The regulator is also seeking orders for the company to take the action required to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayment in full, plus superannuation and interest.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 22 June 2021.