Court action after fruit and veg stores allegedly underpaid workers $94,000

13 May 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the operator of fruit and vegetable stores in Wagga and Sydney for allegedly underpaying 39 workers a total of $94,000.

Facing court is Roselands Fruit Market Pty Ltd, which operates the "Fruit World' and "Fruit Market" stores on Baylis Street, Wagga, as well as a store at the Roselands Shopping Centre in Sydney.

Documents lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney allege the company underpaid 19 shop assistants at the Wagga stores a total of $84,000 and 20 shop assistants at the Sydney store about $10,000 between 2006 and 2009.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also prosecuting the company's former director Joe Aloisio, who previously managed the Wagga stores, alleging he was involved in the underpayment of the 19 Wagga employees.

The workers were allegedly paid a flat rate for all hours worked, resulting in underpayment of their minimum hourly rate, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, casual loadings and annual leave entitlements.

Five of the allegedly underpaid Wagga employees and seven of the allegedly underpaid Sydney employees were aged under 21.

The Fair Work Ombudsman started investigating Roselands Fruit Market Pty Ltd in 2008 after receiving complaints from workers.

The company has back-paid all money owed. The biggest individual underpayment was $15,820 owed to a Wagga employee.

Fair Work Ombudsman NSW Director Mark Davidson says the decision to prosecute the company and Mr Aloisio was made because of the significant amount involved and the number of low-paid and young workers affected.

The company and Mr Aloisio allegedly committed several breaches of workplace relations laws. The maximum penalty per breach is $33,000 for the company and $6600 for Mr Aloisio.

The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws. Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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