Mackay coal prospector refused to pay employee $40,000

A CENTRAL Queensland coal prospector "deliberately and cynically" refused to pay an employee nearly $40,000 in wages and superannuation assuming she wouldn't take him to court over it.

But now Coal Face Resources and its chief Jason Moultrie has been ordered to pay her back, as well as more than $80,000 in fines.

The Federal Circuit Court found Mr Moultrie withheld $28,269.22 of wages and $9778.17 in superannuation to a woman working for him as a geologist.

Coal Face Resources holds coal tenements in the Bowen and Galilee Basins in central Queensland and in the Surat Basin west of Toowoomba. Mr Moultrie previously operated a Moultrie Group mining services company from a Mackay office before it was declared insolvent last year.

The court found Mr Moultrie failed to pay 14 weeks of pay to the geologist - telling her he was waiting on other companies to pay their accounts.

When she queried him about the owing pay he told her if she was unhappy she could quit.

"That's just how it is, if you find it unacceptable, feel free to resign," the court heard he said.

She refused, but had to take extended sick leave as a result of the stress of not being paid.

Judge Michael Jarrett said Mr Moultrie had deliberately not paid her as he believed she would not do anything about it.

"I accept that they have demonstrated no contrition for their conduct but rather acted in a deliberate, calculated and cynical way.

"(Mr Moultrie) obfuscated in respect of the applicant's wage complaint until the stress and anxiety associated with the respondents' actions caused her to be unfit for work. The respondents never showed any genuine intention to remedy their actions but rather expected that the applicant would not seek to enforce her legal rights.

Instead the woman took the matter to the Federal Court and it found Mr Moultrie breached her employment contract and contravened the Fair Work Act.

Coal Face Resources was ordered to pay a $68,000 fine and Mr Moultrie a $13,600 fine.
- APN NEWSDESK



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