Court action over alleged underpayment of school canteen workers

4 September 2012

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is prosecuting the former operator of a Melbourne school canteen for allegedly underpaying four employees more than $13,000.

Facing court is Unger Catering Services (Aust) Pty Ltd, a specialist Kosher cuisine catering company that previously operated the school canteen at Mount Scopus College at Burwood.

Also facing court is company director and part-owner Sharon Unger.

It is alleged Ms Unger was involved in underpaying four employees who worked at the school’s canteen a total of $13,768 between April, 2007 and May, 2011.

The employees, all women aged between 38 and 58, were employed on a casual basis. It is alleged they were variously underpaid their minimum wages and hourly rates, casual loadings and superannuation entitlements.

The alleged individual underpayments are $7526, $3252, $1733 and $1257.

Fair Work inspectors first discovered the alleged underpayments when they investigated complaints from the employees.

Most of the underpayments have since been rectified.

Court documents allege that Fair Work inspectors had previously provided Ms Unger with information on lawful pay rates when investigating prior underpayment complaints against Unger Catering Services (Aust) Pty Ltd dating back to 1998.

The company has been voluntarily back-paying these complainant employees, as a result of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation.

The employer’s history of underpayment complaints was a key factor in the decision to prosecute.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Ms Unger was involved in Unger Catering Services (Aust) Pty Ltd committing several breaches of workplace laws. They face maximum penalties per breach of up to $6600 and $33,000 respectively.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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