Young McDonald’s worker who was refused toilet breaks by franchisee that abused staff in ‘sinister’ Facebook post has the last laugh on fast food giant
- Former worker Chiara Staines won a case over paid work breaks she was denied
- Tantex Holdings paid her $1,000 in compensation and $800 for time not paid
- Federal Court ordered the franchisee to pay an additional $82,000 in penalties
- Workers were denied the 10-minute breaks and threatened in a Facebook post
- A class action against McDonald’s is being investigated by lawyers and a union
A McDonald’s franchisee has been ordered to pay $82,000 after refusing to allow a young worker 10-minute toilet breaks and threatening staff on Facebook.
Tantex Holdings, which runs six Queensland stores, will pay $10,000 to former worker Chiara Staines after legal action from the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.
Ms Staines was denied ten-minute paid breaks on all but three occasions while working at a McDonald’s restaurant in Brisbane between May 2017 and June 2019.
She won a landmark case in the Federal Court against the franchisee in late August and was paid $1,000 in compensation and $800 for time not paid.
Justice John Logan ordered Tantex to pay the additional penalties over its misrepresentation of workers’ rights on Friday, the Financial Review reported.
Chiara Staines (pictured above) won a case against Brisbane McDonald’s franchisee Tantex Holdings for failing to provide 10-minute breaks and was paid compensation in late August
The Federal Court ordered Tantex to pay an additional $82,000 in penalty payments on Friday (Ms Staines pictured) over its its misrepresenting of workers’ rights and coercion
Justice Logan said the franchisee had misunderstood its enterprise agreement but the misunderstanding ‘manifested itself in very particular and extreme ways’.
Earlier this year, the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union launched a campaign against Tantex, accusing the company of breaking the enterprise agreement by denying toilet breaks.
Tantex’s general manager Christopher Crenicean posted a lengthy rant in a Facebook group for their fast food employees which Justice Logan deemed ‘sinister’.
‘On your shift, this ten-minute break would be the only time you would ever be permitted to have a drink or go to the toilet,’ Mr Crenicean wrote.
‘So I hope to God you don’t get thirsty on your next shift because we just wouldn’t be able to allow a drink. Fair is fair right?’
Justice Logan agreed with the RAFFWU the threat had been an exploitation of a ‘gross power imbalance’.
Tantex were fined $12,000 for misrepresenting workers’ rights, $40,000 for coercion and $30,000 for denying 222 toilet and drink breaks to Ms Staines.
Justice Logan also ordered Tantex to pay $10,000 of the penalties directly to Ms Staines.
The Queen Street Mall restaurant in Brisbane (pictured) where Ms Staines worked is owned by franchisee Tantex Holdings, which runs five more locations in Brisbane
Tantex’s general manager Christopher Crenicean posted a lengthy rant (pictured) about the breaks in a Facebook group for their fast food employees which was deemed as ‘sinister’
He commended the union for bringing the case to the court.
‘This does not just serve the interests of the particular workers concerned, or the trade union. It serves the national interest,’ he explained.
Shine Lawyers and the RAFFWU are now investigating a potential class action against McDonald’s over the 10-minute breaks.
More than 250,000 current and former McDonald’s workers in Australia could be entitled to payouts of more than $1,800 from the fast food giant.
RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said ‘McDonald’s workers have long been exploited’.
‘When the major McDonald’s franchisee, Tantex, stole rest breaks from workers, they broke the law,’ he explained.
‘This is the first time that a Union, and workers, have successfully sued McDonald’s in Australia but it will not be the last.’
A McDonald’s spokesman said they worked closely with restaurants ‘to ensure employees receive all the correct workplace entitlements and pay’.
‘Statements made in the original Facebook post to Tantex employees were unacceptable and do not reflect the beliefs or values of the broader franchisee network or the McDonald’s System.
‘We have addressed the matter with the franchisee directly and processes have been implemented to ensure ongoing compliance,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Retail and Fast Food Workers Union secretary Josh Cullinan (pictured) said thousands more McDonald’s workers who were denied breaks could potentially be compensated