Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Melbourne court awards $240,000 to teenager underpaid by synthetic grass installer

Melbourne court awards $240,000 to teenager underpaid by synthetic grass installer
March 2, 2020

A 19-year-old worker has been awarded a $240,000 payout after he was underpaid by a Melbourne synthetic grass business, with the Court ordering that the company pay its fine directly to him.

In a decision handed down early last month, the Federal Circuit Court found Rhino Grass Director, Mark Hastings, had breached multiple sections of the Fair Work Act.

The court fined Rhino Grass $200,000 and Hastings $40,000 for refusing to pay the 19-year-old warehouse worker 30% of his wages and ordered both pay the fines to the worker on top of the lost salary.

The teenager had testified against Amy Wang, Manager of the Rhino Grass warehouse, telling the Court “I asked her if she knew about my previous fortnight’s pay which had been due the Friday before, on 11th January 2019.

“In response, Ms Wang raised her voice and shouted at me words to the effect of: ‘Is that all I cared about?’”

He said threatened to take the issue to Court, at which point Wang “became visibly angry”.

He also told the court he was forced to use a forklift even though he had no licence and was accused of stealing $30 from the company’s petty cash.

Advising that he resigned because of this, he stated “I was tired of working and not being paid properly. I became upset and (Wang)] said words to the effect that there was no point crying.

“I sent an SMS text message to my mother ... saying that I could not take it any more.”

However, he advised that Wang “ran after me and screamed at me that I could not leave because of the stolen petty cash”.

His father who had come to pick him up paid Wang the $30.

The Court charged the company and its Director, Mark Hastings, on multiple breaches under the Fair Work Act, including fines for deliberately withholding public pay, untaken annual leave, public holiday penalty rates, pay slips and underpaying wages.

The Court also ordered the business and Hastings to pay $37,800 in superannuation with added interest.

Advising that the high penalties were necessary to deter employers and businesses from underpaying their workers, Judge Heather Riley stated “it is important that employers understand that, if caught, it is very expensive to not properly pay employees.

“Young workers are especially vulnerable to workplace exploitation such as wage theft, and the tough judgment was expected to encourage all workers to pursue their rights in court and not leave it to regulators.”

The teenager’s lawyer, Andrew White commented “(he) was a young worker, relatively naive in matters of workplace rights and objectively more vulnerable to exploitation by an unscrupulous employer.

“There was an element of opportunism to the employer’s conduct.”

The business failed to appear in Court which resulted in higher fines than those in similar cases because there had been no discount for employer admissions, which can be as high as 30%.

An industry insider told Australasian Leisure Management that underpayment is not uncommon in the sector with suppliers trying to cash in on the “boom” in  synthetic grass and sporting surfaces in Australia, especially Victoria, driven, in part by education sector spending.

Image: A Rhino Grass promotional photograph. Facebook/Rhino Grass.

Related Articles

13th January 2020 - Fair Work Ombudsman alleges underpayment of stadium cleaners

16th April 2018 - Paul Sadler Swimland to be supervised by wage regulator after underpaying 1300 staff

3rd January 2018 - Fair Work Commission considers Fitness Industry Award penalty rate rises

16th June 2017 - YMCA Victoria moves to correct underpayment of aquatic facility staff

23rd February 2017 - Fair Work Commission cuts Sunday and public holiday penalty rates

29th December 2016 - Paul Sadler Swimland forced to take action on staff underpayments

9th December 2016 - ASTM International standard for artificial turf infill

20th December 2015 - Fair Work Ombudsman orders Launceston fitness club owner to compensate instructor

2nd December 2014 - Innovative cooling system to reduce artificial turf temperatures

3rd October 2014 - Lawsuit filed over planned use of artificial turf at 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

30th March 2014 - Study finds no difference in player injury rates on artificial turf surfaces

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


iEDM integrate Design, Engineering and Delivery Management services to convert existing spaces into exciting new entertainment venues. Our team consists of highly qualified professionals with diverse…

read more

Consultants / Design


Yellowbox Lockers

Yellowbox is an Australian technology company that has developed smart locker technology operated through an app with a focus on experience for users and facility managers. Found at Beaches, Aquatic…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Entertainment / Retail / Security


Centaman Entrance Control

Turnstile Entry Systems and Access Control Centaman Entrance Controls’ Award Winning Range of Access Control Systems includes tripod & triarm turnstiles, speedgates, full height…

read more

Access / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues


The Pool Enclosure Company

Now TPEC Pool Enclosures - see

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues



Centaman has been a market leader in Enterprise Software Solutions for the leisure and recreation industry and both profit and not-for-profit attractions since 1991. It offers a wide range of software…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Technology / Ticketing



With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology


XBODY Australia Pty Ltd

PROVEN BUSINESS CONCEPTS WITH XBODY XBody’s goal is to see you and your EMS business succeed. That is why we don’t just sell equipment, we provide know-how, expert knowledge,…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



SLE Worldwide Australia is a Managing General Underwriter specialising in insuring risks in the world of Sports, Leisure and Entertainment. Be it relaxing, playing, organising or watching sports,…

read more

Insurance / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business