SOMA SHUT

PAY­ING THE PRICE

Cockburn Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

FRE­MAN­TLE restau­rant Soma Kitchen has shut per­ma­nently af­ter cop­ping a huge fine and roast­ing in a Fed­eral Cir­cuit Court judg­ment over the han­dling of a case in­volv­ing an un­der­paid worker.

The restau­rant was pe­nalised nearly $22,000 last week af­ter it was found to have paid an em­ployee just $200 for 146 hours of work.

This week, a spokesper­son said only that “the dam­age has been done” and the busi­ness was closed.

A FRE­MAN­TLE restau­rant that paid an em­ployee just $200 for 146 hours of work has been pe­nalised nearly $22,000.

Soma Kitchen, which has now closed, was is­sued the penalty for its “rather non­cha­lant ap­proach” to com­ply­ing with a no­tice handed down af­ter the em­ployee made a com­plaint.

In Au­gust 2019, the Fair Work Om­buds­man or­dered the Mar­ket Street es­tab­lish­ment and the com­pany’s direc­tor, Gian­carlo Daniele, to back­pay the man but they failed to do so.

This prompted the Om­buds­man to take the mat­ter to the Fed­eral Cir­cuit Court, with Judge Christo­pher Ken­dall de­liv­er­ing his de­ci­sion last week.

The court im­posed an $18,270 penalty against the com­pany and a $3654 penalty against Mr Daniele.

Soma Kitchen was also or­dered to pay the worker’s out­stand­ing en­ti­tle­ments in full, plus in­ter­est.

A Fair Work in­spec­tor in­ves­ti­gated the Mar­ket Street restau­rant af­ter the dis­grun­tled worker lodged a re­quest for as­sis­tance last year, and con­cluded the com­plainant had been un­der­paid.

A com­pli­ance note was then is­sued.

The court was told that when the in­spec­tor later con­tacted Mr Daniele to fol­low up on the mat­ter, he replied that the com­pli­ance no­tice was “sit­ting on my desk to ac­tion” and “I might do it to­day”.

Judge Christo­pher Ken­dall said Mr Daniele and Soma Kitchen had shown a “com­plete dis­re­gard for their le­gal obli­ga­tions” and shown “no con­tri­tion, taken no cor­rec­tive ac­tion and have demon­strated a lack of co­op­er­a­tion through­out the en­tire pe­riod in which the (Fair Work Om­buds­man) has been en­gag­ing with them”.

A spokesper­son for Soma Kitchen said on Mon­day only “the dam­age has been done” and the busi­ness was closed.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, the restau­rant had of­fered “mod­ern Mediter­ranean cui­sine with an ex­plo­ration of flavours from North Africa and the Mid­dle East”.

Fair Work Om­buds­man San­dra Parker said busi­nesses that ig­nored com­pli­ance no­tices faced sig­nif­i­cant penal­ties.

The now-va­cant venue pre­vi­ously home to Soma Kitchen.

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