iKeep Bookkeeping | $4 million penalties against restaurant and management for “a calculated scheme to rob employees

$4 million penalties against restaurant and management for “a calculated scheme to rob employees

A landmark ruling by the Fair Work Ombudsman has resulted in a substantial $4 million in court-ordered penalties against the former operators of three renowned Taiwanese restaurants. This verdict comes in response to deliberate and systematic underpayment of vulnerable migrant workers and the falsification of records.

The Federal Court has imposed significant penalties, including:

$1.99 million against DTF World Square Pty Ltd, which oversaw operations at Din Tai Fung restaurants across prominent shopping centers.

$1.89 million against Selden Farlane Lachlan Investments Pty Ltd, responsible for operations at the Emporium store.

$92,232 against former General Manager of DTF World Square, Ms. Hannah Handoko (also known as Vera Handoko).

$105,084 against former HR Coordinator of DTF World Square, Ms. Sinthiana Parmenas.

These penalties were levied following findings of multiple breaches of the Fair Work Act, including “serious contraventions” committed knowingly and systematically, attracting tenfold increases in applicable maximum penalties.

Justice Anna Katzmann condemned the actions of the two companies, noting their deliberate efforts to deprive employees of their lawful entitlements and conceal their misconduct through falsified records. The Court described the conduct as “extremely serious,” characterizing it as “a calculated scheme to rob employees of their hard-earned wages.”

The companies systematically underpaid 17 employees a total of $157,025 under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and provided false records to Fair Work Inspectors. These employees, predominantly visa holders from Indonesia and China, were primarily engaged in casual roles, with some sponsored as full-time employees by DTF World Square Pty Ltd.

Of particular concern were the false records and underpayment of casual loading and penalty rates, which met the criteria for “serious contraventions” under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws due to deliberate and systematic conduct.

Justice Katzmann also found Ms. Handoko and Ms. Parmenas to be involved in numerous contraventions by the companies. Despite their seniority, they demonstrated no contrition, and no evidence was presented of corrective action being taken.

Individual underpayments ranged from $2,165 to $50,588, with the highest underpayment relating to unpaid overtime.

This ruling underscore the Fair Work Ombudsman’s commitment to protecting the rights of vulnerable workers and holding employers accountable for unlawful practices. It serves as a stark warning to businesses engaging in deceptive and exploitative conduct, with substantial penalties awaiting those found in violation of labor laws.



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