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The operator of a former Gloria Jean’s coffee shop in Sydney’s Kings Cross (Senan Pty Ltd) has been forced to pay $2000 compensation to a young casual employee who was dismissed after she queried her pay rate following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In early June last year, the casual employee asked her employer if the flat rate of $12 an hour she was being paid for all hours worked was the correct rate of pay.

Two days later, her employer cancelled the employee’s next rostered shift and later sent her an email terminating her employment.

The employee, a 26 year old foreign worker in Australia on a skilled graduate visa, complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman, which commenced an investigation which included checking the wages and conditions of other staff.

The Fair Work Ombudsman found that Senan contravened the Fair Work Act when it cancelled her rostered shift and dismissed her for querying her employment conditions.

It also found that 15 other staff had been underpaid a total of more than $16,000 between June, 2011 and July, 2013 – including one employee who was owed $8200 back-pay.

The staff – including six young workers aged between 17 and 20, three foreign workers in Australia on Visas – had been underpaid their minimum rate of pay, casual loadings, weekend penalty rates and payment of accrued entitlements on termination.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also found Senan had breached workplace laws by failing to keep proper employment records.

As part of the Enforceable Undertaking, Senan has written to all affected employees offering its “sincere regret” and committing to a number of measures to ensure its future compliance with Commonwealth workplace laws.

It also agreed to pay $2000 to the employee whose job was terminated for economic and non-economic losses suffered as a consequence of the adverse action.

Ms Zhou was also required to undertake workplace relations training on the rights and responsibilities of employers under the Fair Work Act, particularly in relation to discrimination in the workforce.

Media Release by Fair Work Ombudsman 29 July 2014

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