A Perth restaurant and its director are facing legal action from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for alleged discrimination against its pregnant employee.
The Coco’s Restaurant waitress had informed its director, Abdel Wahid Tajeddine, that she was pregnant in April 2017.
It is claimed in July 2017, Mr Tajeddine had told a supervisor to send her home one day because she “looks disgusting”.
Also, the director had allegedly ordered the supervisor to cancel a shift she was scheduled to work that same month because of “the effect of her pregnancy on her appearance and ability to perform her duties”.
In the days following the cancellation of that shift, the waitress says she wrote to the management of Jewel Bay 2015 Pty Ltd (the operator of Coco’s Restaurant) to express her concerns that her rostered shifts had been cancelled because she was pregnant, but she said she didn’t receive a response.
FWO’s Sandra Parker described the alleged conduct as “particularly serious” and said that “it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that they are aware of their obligations under workplace laws, and that they treat workers fairly”.
“Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, carer responsibilities, religion, political opinion, nationality or social origin” she said.
The FWO published that it “is seeking a penalty against Jewel Bay and Mr Tajeddine for alleged breaches of workplace laws, as well as a Court order requiring them to pay compensation to the employee for lost earnings and non-economic loss suffered, including stress and humiliation.”
Jewel Bay will face penalties of up to $63,000 for each contravention, while Mr Tajeddine personally will face penalties of up to $12,600 for each contravention.
The FWO is also seeking a court order requiring the employer to commission workplace relations training for management personnel.
The matter will be heard in the Federal Circuit Court in Perth on 13 November.
Ms Parker has encouraged any employees with concerns about workplace discrimination to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.