The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operator of a fruit and vegetable shop in Melbourne’s inner north-west.
Facing court is Giuseppe Catanzariti, who operated ‘Juicy Fruits Kensington’, in Kensington, as a sole trader.
The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from three workers Mr Catanzariti employed at his shop as part-time shop assistants for various periods between August 2021 and March 2022.
The workers’ duties included customer service, basic food preparation and handling sale transactions. Two were young workers, aged 19 to 20 at the time.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Mr Catanzariti in July 2022 after forming a belief the workers had been underpaid minimum wage rates under the General Retail Industry Award 2020 and were not paid their accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements when their employment ended, owed under the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.
The FWO alleges Mr Catanzariti, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required him to calculate and back-pay the workers’ entitlements in full.
It is alleged that Mr Catanzariti has not made any back-payments to two of the workers and has only partially back-paid the other worker.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order business operators to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.
The FWO is seeking a penalty against Mr Catanzariti for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. He faces a penalty of up to $6,600.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for Mr Catanzariti to take the steps set out in the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.
The next court date for the matter is in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 31 August 2023.