Health food retailer penalised $54,264 for unfair dismissal

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $54,264 in court penalties against the operators of a health food retailer in regional northern NSW for failing to pay compensation to two unfairly dismissed workers.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has ordered a $45,288 penalty against Rainbow Wholefoods Pty Ltd, which is based in Lismore, and a further $8,976 penalty against company director and shareholder, Anthony Stillone.

The penalties were ordered after Rainbow Wholefoods admitted breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with Fair Work Commission orders that required it to pay a total of $50,967.20 in compensation to two workers it had unfairly dismissed. Mr Stillone was involved in the contraventions.

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In addition to the penalties, the Court has ordered Rainbow Wholefoods to pay the compensation in full to the two workers, who have received only partial payment to date.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that do not comply with Fair Work Commission orders need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to make any outstanding payments to workers.

“It is fundamental for the integrity of the workplace relations system that orders made by the Fair Work Commission are complied with,” Ms Parker said.

“We are prepared to take legal action to hold employers accountable and ensure employees receive compensation they are lawfully entitled to.”

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

In April 2021, the Fair Work Commission found that in July 2020, Rainbow Wholefoods unfairly dismissed two workers – a manager and a shop assistant – it had employed since 2015 and 2018, respectively.

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The Fair Work Commission ordered the company to pay $31,280 compensation to the manager and $19,697.20 compensation to the shop assistant, within three weeks.

The workers lodged requests for assistance with the Fair Work Ombudsman after the company failed to make the payments.

The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced an investigation and attempted to secure voluntary compliance before commencing legal action in 2021.

Rainbow Wholefoods made part-payment of the compensation earlier this year – but it still owes the office manager more than $21,000 and the shop assistant more than $9,000.