Unpaid Indian cook sacked for taking sick leave wins case

An Indian overseas worker who was sacked by text message for taking one day of sick leave should be paid $32,661 in outstanding wages and compensation, an Australian court told Simon Peter Mackenzie, who used to run The Curry Tree restaurant in Nedlands, Perth, local media reports. The Indian national, then 24, was on temporary visa when Mackenzie hired him as a cook in 2012. After paying him $200 for the first few days, Mackenzie stopped payments. The cook did not complain as he thought the management will sponsor his visa. He continued working without pay for the next four months. One day, he fell sick and sent a text message to Mackenzie saying he would not be able to attend work for a day. In a series of angry text messages, the restaurant owner told the cook he need not come back. Mackenzie said he does not deserve any sympathy. He then told the cook to return the restaurant key to him by evening or face arrest for its ‘theft’. The Curry Tree restaurant was burnt down in 2014. The Fair Work Ombudsman heard the worker’s story and took up his case. The Federal Circuit Court on Tuesday found Mackenzie and his company, Siner Enterprises Pty Ltd, violated workplace rules as alleged by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Judge Antoni Lucev said Mackenzie’s conduct displayed hostility towards the worker and he showed no remorse. It penalised Mackenzie $34,815 and his firm $174,075. The penalty should deter employers in the restaurant and hospitality industry from similar conduct, the judge said.