Deck of cards falling for Kenny’s Cardiology

cards,gamble,pokerThe Fair Work Ombudsman has taken the rare step of seeking an injunction restraining a retail operator from underpaying her employees.

The move, in the Federal Circuit Court, comes after the agency received further complaints from young, vulnerable workers.

Facing legal action is Melbourne woman, Deborah Ruth Souris, who owned and ran Kenny’s Cardiology and Giftology House specialty card and giftware stores in Melbourne and Brisbane, before selling the Kenny’s Cardiology stores in 2014.

Souris allegedly failed to respond to three compliance notices requesting back pay for five former employees who had been underpaid a total of $11,187.

If the Fair Work Ombudsman is successful with the injunction, Souris could potentially face contempt of court proceedings for any further underpayments proven in court.

The injunction is being sought in response to concerns that complaints from employees of businesses  Souris has been involved in suggest a pattern of non compliant behaviour.

Since 2007, the Fair Work Ombudsman has been contacted by more than 40 employees concerned about underpayment of wages who worked for companies of which Souris was a director.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on July 23.

It is only the second time the Fair Work Ombudsman has sought such an injunction.

The first case was successful, with the Federal Circuit Court penalising NSW hair dressing salon operator, Nelvin Litesh Lal, and his businesses $162,000 for underpaying staff, and issuing an Order restraining Lal from underpaying any hairdressing employees in the future.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that a manager at a store previously operated by Souris in the Brisbane CBD was allegedly underpaid $7190.

Four other employees at stores in Narre Warren, Cheltenham, and Maribyrnong, in Melbourne, were also underpaid smaller amounts.

Under the Fair Work Act, business operators must comply with compliance notices issued by Fair Work inspectors or make a court application for a review if they wish to challenge a notice.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says inspectors made extensive efforts to engage with  Souris before placing the matter before court.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to secure sufficient co-operation and the alleged underpayments have not been rectified,” she said today.

Souris is facing maximum penalties of $5100 per contravention for three alleged contraventions of workplace laws.


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