National News

Qld cafe fined $180k for exploiting worker

The former owners of a Brisbane cafe have been fined more than $180,000 after illegally forcing a foreign worker to hand back $18,000 of his wages.

Federal Court judge Michael Jarrett fined Saandeep Chokhani $30,000 and imposed a further $150,000 penalty against the company he and his wife owned over the unlawful cash-back arrangement.

The court found Mr Chokhani, who until last month had owned and operated the Coffee Club at Nundah, had failed to pay the Indian national wages for four months from July to November 2014 and for another four weeks in early 2015.

He then transferred $19,300 to the worker, only to ask him to pay back $18,000 and in 2015, threatened to have the worker's 457 visa cancelled unless he complied.

Justice Jarrett said the worker felt he did not have any choice but to pay the money, and Mr Chokhani's behaviour was "especially egregious" and a grotesque exploitation of the power imbalance between the two men.

"He could not leave his employment because if he did so he would breach a condition of his visa and his ability to remain in Australia would be seriously compromised. He was effectively working for nothing," Justice Jarrett said.

The worker was ultimately short-changed by $23,546, which has since been repaid.

Brisbane woman Debbie Grearly and her daughter Megan took over as owners of the cafe last month.

© AAP 2017

You may also like...

NSW Airbnb hosts may pay for unruly guests

NSW Airbnb hosts may pay for unruly guests

NSW flat dwellers who let out their spare rooms to rowdy guests through sites such as Airbnb could be forced to pay compensation to the neighbours...

Home office will make Aussies safer: PM

Home office will make Aussies safer: PM

Malcolm Turnbull insists his new super security ministry will make Australia safer but Labor wants him to show how. The prime minister is spruiking...

Abbott's surprising chat with dying man

Abbott's surprising chat with dying man

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a visit to a pre-school in Mulgoa, western Sydney, Friday, May 15, 2015. (AAP Image/David Moir...

Robot roadside worker unveiled in Tas

Robot roadside worker unveiled in Tas

A robotic traffic controller with beard and beanie has been given the job of warning Tasmanian motorists of approaching roadworks. Nicknamed...