Restaurant Owner Fined $300K For Paying 100 Workers In Half-Price Pizza

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An Australian restaurant owner was fined nearly $335,000 for underpaying 111 workers and giving them half-priced pizza and soda instead.

Ruby Chand, who owns two La Porchetta restaurants in Melbourne, was accused of underpaying workers as young as 13 years old from 2009 to 2012. Many workers were employed under training programs that allowed the restaurants to claim more than $45,000 in benefits.

Prosecutors found that Chand had failed to pay a total of $258,000 to workers over a four-year period.

Federal Circuit Court Judge John O'Sullivan said offering discounts instead of minimum wage is a practice that “belongs in the dark ages.”

“The irresistible inference was the conduct engaged in was part of a deliberate course of conduct by the respondents as to how the business, if it could be called that, was run,” O’Sullivan said.

"Ensuring compliance with minimum standards is an important consideration in this case," he added.

Chand was given a personal fine of $55,803 and two fines of $139,507.50 for each franchisee company attached to his restaurants. He must also pay the workers to make up for their underpaid time, of which there is still $79,000 outstanding.

Sources: The Guardian, The Age