The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in court against a Sydney-based law firm and its director.
Facing court is El Baba Lawyers Pty Ltd, which is based in the south-west Sydney suburb of Bankstown, and company director Mona El Baba.
The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker employed at El Baba Lawyers on a full-time basis as a personal assistant/legal secretary from July 2020 to February 2021.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to El Baba Lawyers in March 2021 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid entitlements owed under the Legal Services Award 2020.
It is alleged the worker was underpaid the full-time minimum wage for ordinary hours worked.
The FWO alleges El Baba Lawyers, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required the calculation and back-payment of the worker’s outstanding entitlements. It’s alleged Ms El Baba was involved in the contravention.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.
The FWO is seeking penalties against El Baba Lawyers Pty Ltd and Ms El Baba for allegedly failing to comply with the Compliance Notice. The company faces a maximum penalty of up to $33,300, while Ms El Baba faces a maximum penalty of up to $6,660.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Sydney on 12 October 2021.
Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.