A Chinese boss who made a ‘deliberate decision’ to treat a Malaysian couple differently to other employees has been fined $211,104.
The Federal Circuit Court found the husband and wife, who were employed by the Scamander Beach Resort Hotel on the east coast of Tasmania, were underpaid almost $30,000 and required to work extra hours which were not recorded.
Chang Yen Chang of NSW owned the hotel until 2014 and was director and company secretary of Yenida Pty Ltd.
A Chinese boss treated a Malaysian couple differently to Australian workers while employed by the Scamander Beach Resort Hotel on the east coast of Tasmania (pictured)
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James (pictured) said it was an uncomfortable truth that racial discrimination is a driver behind some of the exploitation of migrant workers in Australia
He was fined $35,099 and the business was ordered to pay out a further $176,005, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
‘This is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has taken legal action against an employer for racially discriminating against employees,’ Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.
‘It is an uncomfortable truth that racial discrimination is a driver behind some of the exploitation of migrant workers in this country,’ she said.
It was found Chang and his company breached the Fair Work Act’s racial discrimination provisions by treating the couple differently to Australian workers who worked five or few days each week.
The Malaysian husband was hired as a chef from an advertisement in a newspaper in 2007.
Chang’s company sponsored the man on a 457 skilled worker visa to work in the restaurant of the hotel, working six days a week up to 57 hours.
The court heard Chang deny claims he had referred to the couple as ‘family’ to further pressure for them to work hard.
The Malaysian husband was hired as a chef from an advertisement in a newspaper in 2007 (stock picture)
From 2010-2014 he was underpaid a total of $20,550, the court heard, with an annual salary of $45,240 to $46,280 – which did not account for overtime or public holiday rates.
His wife was taken on as a kitchen-hand on a spouse visa from September 2009 – January 2010 and was allegedly underpaid $8775 over four months, working between 35 – 51 hours a week.
It was heard that 15 Australian employees were allegedly underpaid a total of $26,488.
Ms James said both the Malaysian couple and Australian employees had been repaid.
‘Our success in this case is a warning to any employer tempted to make employment decisions based on race,’ Ms James said.
It was the Fair Work Ombudsman’s first racial discrimination legal case (pictured is the Scamander Beach Resort Hotel)