Watchdog prosecutes Chili’s restaurants

Posted by Editorial on 17th September 2009

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking legal action against the operators of two Chili’s restaurants for allegedly underpaying teenage staff.The litigation follows an extensive investigation into the Chili’s chain of restaurants which started in 2007.

Chili’s (Shellharbour) Pty Ltd and Chili’s (Penrith) Pty Ltd will face the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney.

Court documents allege Chili’s (Shellharbour) Pty Ltd short-changed a 15-year-old part-time teenage girl $212 over 16 months. It’s claimed she was regularly told to wait at the restaurant for up to three hours before commencing duties – but was not paid for this time.

Court papers allege Chili’s (Penrith) Pty Ltd also underpaid a part-time teenage girl when she was 15 and 16. It’s claimed her minimum weekly pay was short by a total of $1682 over nine months.

It will be the third time the Fair Work Ombudsman has launched legal action in relation to the Chili’s restaurant chain.

Also facing court is former group general manager of Restaurant Services Group Pty Ltd, Gavin Reynolds, of Mount Lambie.

The Restaurant Services Group managed Chili’s chain of restaurants at the time of the alleged underpayments.

The company was placed into voluntary administration in March last year and is now in liquidation.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims Mr Reynolds was involved in the underpayment of three other Restaurant Services Group employees at Chili’s restaurants at Shellharbour and Wentworthville. Court documents say the three, including two teenagers, were underpaid annual leave entitlements of $2100, $350 and $295.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell advised that the decision to prosecute was made because the staff were young and vulnerable workers and the failure of the employer to rectify the matter.

The Agency is seeking penalties.

The case is listed for hearing on December 15.

In April last year, Restaurant Services Group sole director Alan Joseph Noor was fined $10,000 for failing to provide employees with seven days access to a workplace agreement and information statements, and restaurant manager Imran Suleman was fined $300 for applying duress to a young employee at Chili’s Texas Grill in Wollongong.

In March last year, Brinker Australia Pty Ltd, which was trading as Chili’s Texas Grill in Wollongong, was fined $39,000 for breaches relating to a workplace agreement and underpayment of a young employee.

The maximum penalty per breach is $33,000 for the companies and $6600 for Mr Reynolds.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au.