The owner of a security company has been handed one of the largest ever personal penalties for a Fair Work case, after he was found to have unlawfully sacked a security guard and “systematically” underpaid three others.
Despite it being illegal to take adverse action against a worker for enquiring or lodging a complaint about their employment, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) found that is exactly what happened to a Gold Coast security guard in 2016.
The guard had been employed by Adam Marcinkowski and his company VIP Security Services, but was found to have been dismissed in 2016 for querying his hours on a work roster.
This time last year, Mr Marcinkowski made headlines after the FWO revealed allegations he told employees they would be sent “straight to the dole queue” if they spoke to “those f……” [FWO investigators].
Federal Circuit Court judge Michael Jarrett threw the book at Mr Marcinkowski, finding him guilty of breaching a number of workplace regulations, including:
- Unlawfully terminating the guard’s employment.
- Underpaying three guards a total of $15,938 between April 2015 and June 2016, by paying them flat rates of $24 per hour that failed to meet penalty rates under the relevant award. (The three guards have since been reimbursed in full).
- Illegally deducted money from employee wages to cover uniforms.
Judge Jarrett said Mr Marcinkowski’s conduct amounted to “systemic behaviour which suggests not only an utter disregard for the law, but also a lack of consideration for basic entitlements, workplace rights and decency”.
“He plainly knew the relevant rates at the time he employed each of the employees but deliberately caused (his company) not to pay them, but an insufficient flat rate instead.”
The judge ordered Mr Marcinkowski to pay penalties totalling $115,668. VIP Security could not be penalised as the company was placed into liquidation in April.
The FWO noted that Mr Marcinkowski is now the sole director of a new company with a similar name – VIP Securities International – which employs some of the same workers as the now defunct business.
New Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said it was the fourth-largest penalty ever handed down to an individual business operator in an FWO case.
“This penalty highlights that it is completely unacceptable for an employer to dismiss a worker for exercising a basic workplace right,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers in the security industry should be on notice that we will not tolerate businesses paying flat rates that undercut lawful minimum rates.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.