The owner of a well-known Darwin pub has been accused of being a racist after introducing policies to keep Aboriginal people out of the venue.
Mitchell McNamee is also accused of owing thousands of dollars in unpaid wages to his workers.
He’s ‘a racist’
Mr McNamee, who owns Rorkes Beer, Wine and Food in central Darwin, allegedly wrote to a senior staffer saying, “I told you no blacks in my f***ing bar”.
He also sent a text message suggesting staff should use the excuse of “no singlets” to stop Indigenous people from coming into the venue.
Staff also claim that Mr McNamee would regularly tell them to remove Aboriginal patrons for no legitimate reason.
Thom Brock, who worked at Rorkes as a junior manager, told ABC News that Mr McNamee was “a racist” and made staff feel uncomfortable.
“He would ask me to charge (Indigenous customers) for water, which we’re obviously not allowed to do because it’s supposed to be free,” he said.
Staff walk out over unpaid wages
Rorkes staff staged a walk-out last week, claiming they were owed several weeks’ pay.
One worker said she was owed $10,000 and has not been paid since early January.
Mr Brock said he was owed almost $6,000 from three weeks of unpaid wages and claimed that Mr McNamee would often pay him late.
Beau Amy moved from Victoria’s Swan Hill to work as a duty manager at Rorkes.
He also quit last week.
“When I first started I was promised a certain amount [of pay] … and then without any notice my pay was dropped by a large amount,” Mr Amy told ABC News.
“He actually avoided me for several weeks and then in the final weeks I wasn’t getting paid at all.”
Mr Amy said estimated he was owed more than $4,000 and also claims he hasn’t been paid for several weeks.
According to media reports, the bar has been in dire financial trouble since 2015.
“I was told it was doing great … so, I thought we were doing well until the pay started to change, he lied to me about how well the business was doing,” Mr Amy said.
“It made me feel worthless really. I’ve moved across from the other side of the country to help someone out and I’ve been lied to and asked to work for free.”
Rorkes has been closed since the staff walkout, with several workers telling ABC News that Mr McNamee has promised to repay the owed wages.
Even so, a number have now contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman for help.
No excuse for wage theft or racism
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Discrimination Claims, said there is no excuse for wage theft, or racism.
“What a grub Mr McNamee appears to be,” he said.
“Not only does he rip off his staff, but he’s also a nasty little racist who only wants a certain clientele in his pub, which is strange, because by the sounds of things, he needs all the customers he can get.
“If you can’t afford to pay proper wages and entitlements, then you shouldn’t be in business.”
Mr Heffernan said it is unlawful for a business to refuse service to a person based on their race, skin colour or ethnic origin.
“The Racial Discrimination Act is very clear – it is unlawful for a person who supplies goods or services to the public to refuse those goods or services because of someone’s race,” he said.
“If an Aboriginal person made a formal complaint, Mr McNamee could find himself paying a lot of compensation to those affected.”
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