Brisbane Fast Food Business In Court Over Employee Underpayment Claims

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a fast food business in Brisbane.

Facing court is Riddhi Siddhi Pty Ltd, which operates a fast food outlet trading as Vege Rama and operates an associated commercial kitchen located in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

Also facing court is a director of the company, Ms Ruchika Sharma.

The regulator commenced its investigation after receiving a request for assistance from an employee who worked as a kitchenhand on a casual basis at the commercial kitchen from April 2018 to August 2019.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Riddhi Siddhi in April this year after forming a belief the employee was underpaid entitlements owed under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

It is alleged the employee, a visa holder from Nepal aged in his 20s at the time, worked between 50 and 60 hours per week.

The FWO alleges the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements.

It is also alleged the company provided false and misleading records and pay slips to Fair Work Inspectors, incorrectly showing the hours worked by the employee, and that the employee was paid above award wages.

The FWO alleges Ms Sharma was involved in the company’s contraventions of failing to comply with the Compliance Notice and providing false or misleading records to Fair Work Inspectors.

The FWO is seeking penalties against Riddhi Siddhi and Ms Sharma. The company and Ms Sharma face possible maximum penalties of up to $31,500 and $6,300 respectively for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice. For each of the contraventions concerning false records and pay slips, the company and Ms Sharma face possible maximum penalties of up to $63,000 and $12,600 respectively.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on 12 February 2021.

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