The FWO has won its first "serious contravention" penalties three years after the provisions were added to the Fair Work Act, a café and its former general manager fined a total of $230,000 on their second visit to court for underpaying workers.
A 61-year-old former economics professor has been fined $31,000 for underpaying two visa holders employed at a Korean grocery, a court finding he deliberately arranged for them to receive as little as $10 an hour.
An accountancy firm that created and gave the FWO false records covering up a massage parlour's underpayments must pay more per breach than the family-run employer, which has been fined about 10% of the penalties sought by the workplace watchdog.
A federal court judge has in fining an underpaying juice shop operator almost $35,000 flatly rejected "cultur[al] differences" as a mitigating factor, lamenting instead the frequency with which ethnically diverse employers exploit their own communities.
In a significant decision on FWO investigative powers under recent laws stiffening protections for vulnerable workers, the Federal Court has rejected a franchisor's bid to have declared void a notice to produce documents created before the legislation came into force.
Service station owners who required a visa-dependent employee to hand over his tax refund and cover the cost of drive-offs have been ordered to compensate the former console operator and his fellow-worker wife more than $50,000 after a court found them accessorially liable for underpayments.
The FWO is prosecuting the operators of a Sydney restaurant for allegedly underpaying a skilled worker on a SubClass 457 visa by more than $150,000 while they maintained "overall control" of his bank account.
The FWO has launched a test case against the operator of a pop-up toy store, seeking to reverse the onus of proof for underpayments and rely for the first time on serious contraventions provisions that potentially expose the company and its director to 10 times the ordinary maximum penalties.