PAYING THE PRICE
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.