NATIONAL advertising company OHMedia Melbourne has been penalised $100,000 for underpaying 45 casual employees, including 34 in Brisbane.
The Brisbane workers, including seven aged between 18 and 21, worked 133 hours for no wages and were underpaid more than $48,000.
They worked at stalls outside supermarkets promoting pre-paid SIM cards and top-up vouchers supplied by Lycamobile, which had contracted OHMedia Melbourne to promote its products.
In 2013 Lycamobile was penalised $59,400 for underpaying 13 staff in Brisbane and Adelaide, in similar circumstances.
Following an investigation by the Fair Work ombudsman, the Federal Circuit Court fined OHMedia Melbourne $85,000 and instructed it to repay almost $60,000 in unpaid wages.
Director and part-owner Wen Zhou, also known as Joseph Chou, was fined $15,000.
Judge Michael Jarrett says Zhou showed no genuine remorse.
"Employers should understand very clearly that employees, whether within a vulnerable class or otherwise, are not available for exploitation and are entitled to all of the protections offered by the Fair Work Act," he says.
Fair Work first launched legal action in 2013, after investigating complaints from several workers.
Ombudsman Natalie James says the case should remind employees that failing to pay basic wages is a serious matter.
"Successful litigations such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws, because it helps them to compete on a level playing field," she says.
ASIC issued a notice of proposed deregistration for OHMedia Melbourne in March 2013.
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