A failure to pay compensation for an unfair dismissal case has seen a Melbourne based gym and its part owner slapped with a fine of nearly $50,000.
In January, World Gym Sunshine Pty Ltd was ordered by the Fair Work Commission to pay compensation of $2200 within 14 days to a 23-year-old receptionist.
The order was ignored with the business slapped with a penalty of $41,182.50 and the sole-director and part owner, Wayne George Mailing, handed down a further fine of $6426.
The Federal Circuit Court imposed the tough penalty after the Fair Work Ombudsman initiated legal proceedings.
Judge John O’Sullivan described the case as a “very serious matter” and hoped the penalty would serve as a “general deterrence so that others understand the need to accept the umpire’s decision and comply with the orders of the Fair Work Commission”.
After the business, which had previously operated a fitness club located in Sunshine in Melbourne’s western suburbs, ignored the FWC order to pay the $2200 compensation penalty several notices were issued demanding it comply with the order.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully said “extensive efforts’ were made to prevent the matter going to the court. “We were left with no option but to proceed to litigation because this company simply refused to co-operate,” he said.
The company eventually complied with the order to pay the compensation in late August. However, Judge O’Sullivan found the business had “wilfully ignored” the Commission’s orders until after the FWO had already commenced legal proceedings.
“There is nothing to suggest that (World Gym Sunshine) has shown any insight into, let alone remorse for, its behaviour,” Judge O’Sullivan said.
Judge O’Sullivan also fingered Mr Mailing as being responsible for the matter, saying he was directly involved in the gym’s non-compliance and hoped the penalty would deter him from acting similarly in the future.
Mr Scully said that the company could have avoided the penalty if they had accepted the FWC’s original ruling and paid the smaller fine of $2200.
“Compliance with Commission Orders is fundamental for the integrity of the workplace relations system and employers should be aware that we are prepared to take action where appropriate to ensure they are enforced.”