Crust Pizza franchisee hit with $100,000 penalty

By Nick Hall | 04 Nov 2019 View comments

A Crust Pizza franchisee in Hobart has copped a whopping $104,000 penalty for discrimination against migrant workers, after it was revealed they paid the employers far less than their Australian counterparts.

QHA Foods Pty Ltd, which operates the Elizabeth Street outlet in North Hobart came under fire from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), following an ongoing investigation.

Audits revealed that the four migrant workers, from Bangladesh and India were paid rates of between $12 an hour and $1 per delivery between January and July 2016. The international students were also paid in cash, were required to deliver pizzas to more distant locations than Australian employees and were not provided with pay slips, in breach of workplace laws.

The four workers were duped a total of $9926, with QHA Foods and two of the company’s directors and shareholders, Anandh Kumarasamy and Haridas Raghuram copping major penalties.

Crust Pizza franchisee penalty

Under the Fair Work Act, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their nationality. The breaches cost QHA Foods an $80,000 penalty with Kumarasamy and Raghuram each hit with a $12,000 penalty,

Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman said the case was particularly disturbing as it involved significant discrimination against employees from the same migrant background as the operators.

“It is particularly concerning that this matter involved business operators breaching the rights of workers from within their own migrant community. Singling out migrant workers for underpayment is unacceptable conduct that will not be tolerated by us or the court,” Parker said.

“Discrimination against workers on the basis of national extraction or race can be a driver behind workplace exploitation. All employees have the same rights regardless of visa status and we encourage anyone with concerns to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

Discriminations

While the underpayment of the migrant workers is troubling, the double standard involved demonstrates the callous nature of the exploitation. Australian employees at the Crust Pizza outlet were paid higher minimum rates of pay and penalty rates, including being paid penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work and a cents-per-kilometre rate for deliveries.

Judge Barbara Barker said the four migrant workers were vulnerable due to their limited understanding of Australia’s workplace laws and the conduct towards them was deliberate.

Along with the financial penalties, the court also ordered QHA Foods to put managers through workplace relations training. It’s the third time Fair Work has taken legal action against a Crust Pizza outlet in the last four years.