The former operators of kiosks in two prominent Melbourne shopping centres have been fined more than $70,000 for underpaying and threatening workers.
Melbourne couple Haim Tomer Diamond and Rina Diamond were ordered in December last year to repay the outstanding sum of $17,247 owed to 11 employees of their two unidentified kiosks at Chadstone and Northland shopping centres.
Most of the affected employees were from overseas and working on student or working holiday visas, and had been underpaid by a collective $34,915.
Mrs Diamond was also found to have provided misleading records to investigators in a bid to hide the underpayments, and also threatened one of the student employees with immigration troubles should they not drop the case with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).
The Diamonds’ company, Corioliss Pty Ltd, was put into external administration shortly after.
It wasn’t until this week, however, that the FWO secured $70,600 in penalties from the Diamonds for their “clearly deliberate” exploitation of the workers.
“We are deeply concerned by any allegation that someone would seek to prey upon the vulnerabilities of any member of the workforce for their own personal gain,” Ombudsman Natalie James said.
She added: “The maximum penalties available for serious exploitative conduct that occurs today or in the future are now significantly higher than were available to be imposed in matters such as this one – and we will not hesitate to seek maximum penalties from the courts when it is in the public interest.”