Pizza shop operator fined for paying employees with pizza and drinks
MELBOURNE, Australia — A practice that Ruby Chand used for about three years ended up costing him a lot more than a fair wages would have for his primarily teen aged workforce. The Age reports that Chand was fined almost $335,000 for underpaying more than 100 workers, one as young as 13, by paying them in pizza and drinks as opposed to real wages between 2009 and 2012.
Chand owns both Bound for Glory Enterprises and Zillion Zenith International, which operate the two La Porchetta restaurant franchises in Melbourne where the pay disparity occurred. Each company was fined a total of $139,507.50 and Chand was fined $55,083 individually according to the office of Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman.
“Such a practice belongs in the dark ages,” Judge John O’Sullivan stated in a media release. The judge also ordered that more than $79,000 in back-pay is owed to the 111 workers who haven’t been fully reimbursed. The Age reports that the full disparity was more than $250,000 and many of the workers were in a training program that enabled the companies to claim more than $45,000 in government benefits.
The judge described further that Chand’s companies had previously been ordered to deliver back-pay to underpaid workers in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Fair Work Ombudsman stated that the high penalties were issued to deter both Chand and other companies from exploiting young and vulnerable workers. The situation came to light when a younger staff member’s parents filed a complaint.