RAMSEY Food Processing and its former owner Stuart Bruce Ramsey have been fined more than $115,000 between them after the Federal Court found they deliberately underpaid 11 workers at the South Grafton Abattoir.
Justice John Buchanan fined Ramsey Food $96,000 and Stuart Ramsey $19,200 after finding Ramsey was responsible for his company breaching workplace laws by denying the workers a total of $57,847 in severance pay, accrued annual leave and payment in lieu of notice when their employment was terminated in 2008.
The workers received back pay this year after the Fair Work Ombudsman secured a court order requiring Ramsey Food to address the underpayments.
In a five-page judgment handed down this morning, Justice Buchanan says: "I view the present case as one closely approaching the worst possible case. The employees were treated callously and with flagrant disregard for their legal rights."
He went on: "I regard the breaches in this case as very serious. They appear to me to have involved a deliberate, calculated and systematic refusal to comply with the requirements of the Workplace Relations Act and to take advantage of the vulnerability of the complainant employees".
Further, Justice Buchanan said the conduct of Ramsey and his company was "designed, from the outset, to deny the rights of employees" and that there had been "a systematic refusal to accept or honour specific legal entitlements".
The Northern Star is trying to contact Ramsey for comment.