South Australian convenience chain facing significant class action
One of South Australia’s largest convenience chain operators has rejected claims contained in a $70 million class action suit. In reply, they have denied the claim and suggested the lead applicant consistently displayed behavioural issues in the workplace.
The class action has been filed against Peregine (trading as Shahin Enterprises Pty Ltd) alleging systematic underpayment of workers at the company’s `On the Run’ convenience stores since 2014. The action was filed on behalf of five former employees but has the capacity to involve more than 8,000 underpaid Group members, seeking payments totalling between $50 and $70 million.
The former employees’ legal representatives allege the underpayments were the result of expecting workers to undertake unpaid work before and after shifts, incorrectly docking weekly hours by deducting unpaid meal breaks, requiring managers to work unpaid overtime, and paying salaries that were inferior to entitlements under the relevant Modern Award.
In a recent case against a Shahin entity, South Australian Employment Deputy President Stephen Lieschke found a console operator was unlawfully required to undertake an unpaid 15-minute handover before each shift, and was docked a half hour’s unpaid mail break daily, despite being directed to remain in the store to serve customers, and told not to go to the toilet. The Deputy President also found that the operator was underpaid overtime through an agreement which granted him overtime at ordinary rates.
He described the actions of the company as “deliberate exploitation of a low paid hard-working employee”.
In the current claim, one store manager claims her annualised salary failed to compensate her for additional hours worked. She claimed that she routinely worked a 52.5 hour week, including 14.5 hours of unpaid overtime, and that she had to work through her unpaid meal break, and was required to stay back after her shift until all of her duties were completed.
Shahin has rejected her claims and maintained it provided `top-up’ payments to the manager when her salary did not equate to her minimum award entitlements. Further, they also have argued that as a manager, she was responsible for ensuring meal breaks were scheduled and actually taken, including her own. They allege she had also been subject to numerous disciplinary issues including non-compliance with the uniform policy, smoking on duty, and accused her of allowing a customer to take products from the store without payment.
We will keep you informed of further developments in the case as they arise.
For enquiries about class actions, wage claims, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178 or 1300 925 529 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.