A South Australian supermarket has been ordered to pay a South Australian family more than $10,000 after the supermarket’s managers accused them of stealing items.
The South Australian Supreme Court has ordered the supermarket to pay the family of three the full amount of $10.5,000 they had been seeking for their breach of the Fair Trade Act.
The case relates to a dispute involving a supermarket manager and a manager of the store’s general manager.
The manager of store’s manager had complained to the court that the store manager’s actions had breached their fair trade agreement.
The Supreme Court found that the manager had made “substantial errors” in his investigation of the dispute, which included not checking with the Fair Trading Commission, not following the Fair Work Ombudsman’s guidance and failing to report any suspicious activity to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The store’s managers then alleged that the supermarket was violating its fair trade agreements by using its position as an associate to take advantage of the manager’s position as general manager of a small family-owned supermarket.
The court ruled that the management was “misleading the courts, the court, the community and the media”.
“This has been a challenging and difficult process and it has been the outcome that we wanted,” said the store managers’ lawyer, Greg Brown.
The managers alleged that in the past six months they had worked for a store that was being sold off to another supermarket and were not aware of any other deals being done for the store by the other store.
The manager had alleged that his supervisor had taken advantage of his position by stealing items from the store and charging a higher price than the price charged by the supermarket.
In its judgement, the Supreme Court said the managers were entitled to an award of back pay, but it noted that it had been “a long and arduous process” and they were seeking an award for “an unreasonable amount of time”.
“The supermarket was not acting as a rogue store and it is regrettable that this case has been brought,” said South Australian Fair Trading Commissioner Richard Hill.
The owners of the three family members of the owners of a supermarket in Adelaide have been awarded a total of $20,000 for the breach of their contract of employment and the breach, as well as $15,000 in costs.
They have also been ordered not to engage in any further conduct that breaches the Fair trade Act.
The store’s owners are now being investigated by the Fair Food Complaints Commission.
“We believe this case should have been handled by a court of law,” said Fair Food Commissioner Sue Bannister.
“This is an excellent outcome for the families and their families and for the community.”