An entree at fine diner Absynthe, at the base of the Gold Coast Q1 skyscraper costs $35, the mains $48, but refusing to give 18-year-old apprentice chef $4195 in back-pay has cost the restaurant’s chef-owner Meyjitte Boughenout $15,300 in fines.
The Fair Work Ombudsman launched legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the French-born chef after he repeatedly refused to respond to a Compliance Notice following the teenager’s complaint about underpaid wages and annual leave entitlements.
Boughenout was fined $2550 and his company, Absynthe Restaurant Pty Ltd, received a further $12,750 penalty.
Under the Fair Work Act, employers must comply with Compliance Notices issued by Fair Work inspectors unless they have a reasonable excuse, or make a Court application to challenge the Notice.
Judge Michael Jarrett found that the Fair Work Ombudsman had issued the Compliance Notice in an effort to resolve the underpayment matter, but Boughenout and his company had “demonstrated a deliberate disregard” for workplace laws by failing to comply, and had shown no contrition or remorse.
“The respondents did nothing except engage in what might be described as obfuscation and avoidance,” he said.
The judge said that the penalty “serves as a warning to others” that disregarding Compliance Notices “may come with a heavy price”.
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