Bar operator and accounting firm face court

23 December 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a Melbourne bar operator, its former accounting firm and three individuals.
 
Facing court is J.D. Chapel Nominees Pty Ltd, which operates the Jane Doe Bar in Chapel Street in Prahran.

J.D. Chapel Nominees Pty Ltd is one of the La La Bar Group of companies that was the focus of surprise audits by Fair Work Inspectors in 2019.

Also facing court are:

  • Keri Taiaroa, a former director and shareholder of a number of La La Bar Group companies, including J.D. Chapel Nominees;
  • Matthew Sanger, former general manager of the La La Bar Group companies, including J.D. Chapel Nominees;
  • Nicholas Accounting Management Services Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based firm that provided services to the La La Bar Group companies; and
  • Nicholas Accounting Management Services Pty Ltd director Nicholas Nicolaou.

Audits found that each of the companies in the La La Bar Group, including J.D. Chapel Nominees, allegedly breached the Fair Work Act by failing to make and keep proper records. It is alleged Mr Taiaroa and Mr Sanger were involved in the record-keeping breaches by J.D. Chapel and other La La Bar Group companies. 

The FWO also alleges that Notices to Produce issued by inspectors to Nicholas Accounting Management Services, J.D. Chapel Nominees and several other companies in the La La Bar Group were not complied with. Mr Nicolaou was allegedly involved in the failure to comply with the Notices to Produce.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the La La Bar Group was audited in response to intelligence and allegations about non-compliance. 
 
“We are prepared to take action in response to any actions from employers that can prevent our inspectors from determining whether workers have been paid their full entitlements,” Ms Parker said.

“We are also prepared to take action against professional services firms where we believe they have been significantly involved in breaches of workplace laws.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges it conducted an unannounced visit to Nicholas Accounting Management Services’ office in January 2020 and seized records that the accounting firm had been required to provide under the Notices to Produce.

Most companies in the La La Bar Group have been placed into liquidation since the 2019 audits, which prevents the Fair Work Ombudsman from taking legal action against them.

The FWO is seeking penalties in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne. J.D. Chapel Nominees Pty Ltd and Nicholas Accounting Management Services Pty Ltd face penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention, while Mr Taiaroa, Mr Sanger and Mr Nicolaou face penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention.

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

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Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director - Media
Mobile: 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au