Retail Manager Fined For Underpaying Developmentally Disabled Worker

underpaid workerA manager of a retail store in Australia reportedly has been fined 11,500 Australian dollars (about $12,400) by a government agency for underpaying an employee with developmental disabilities.

Fair Work levied the fine against Maria Doherty, a former manager and part owner of a Garfield Berry Farm store in Victoria, after she underpaid the employee about AU$30,000 (from December 2006 and June 2009), the Herald Sun of Victoria reports.

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The employee, an unnamed male staffer in his 20s, "had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old and wasn't worth more," the newspaper quotes Doherty as saying.

When inspectors from the agency questioned Doherty about the payments, she said the worker "was not worth $17 or $18 an hour" -- the wage due him, and instead paid him hourly rates of AU$10.79 to AU$12.78.

"[Doherty] seems to have been under the misapprehension that she was able to pay ... as little as she believed his time was worth," Federal Magistrate Heather Riley said in her ruling in favor of the employee, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Riley called Doherty's actions deliberate and severe and noted that they continued for an extended period. The judge also said the manager showed no remorse.

"The ... respondent has shown no contrition and little co-operation and has made no attempt to rectify her undoing," the newspaper reports Riley as saying during her ruling Friday.

The incident wasn't the first involving Doherty and wages paid to employees. Fair Work inspectors previously warned Doherty about underpaying workers, following similar complaints from other staff at the berry farm.

The judge also ordered that the AU$11,500 fine levied against Doherty go toward paying back the employee, the ninemsn website reports.

Next: Store Clerk With Mental Disability Fired For 'Stealing' 20 Cents

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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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