Furniture business operators in court

28 June 2023

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against operators of a business that manufactured and sold wooden furniture in southern Queensland.

Facing court are Karenne Ann Gietzel, who operated ‘Sunpine Pluss’ in Toowoomba as a sole trader, and her husband Gary John Gietzel, who was also involved in operating the business.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a worker Ms Gietzel employed on a casual basis at Sunpine Pluss as a furniture sander/labourer between July 2020 and June 2021.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Ms Gietzel in November 2021 after forming a belief the worker had been underpaid wages owed under the Timber Industry Award 2010 and the Timber Industry Award 2020.

The FWO alleges Ms Gietzel without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required her to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements. It is alleged Mr Gietzel was involved in the contravention.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws 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 business operators 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 Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking penalties. Ms and Mr Gietzel each face a penalty of up to $6,660 for allegedly failing to comply with the Compliance Notice.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the couple to take the steps set out in the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane on 7 August 2023.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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