The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub unfairly sack staff who talked about colleagues pay

A Gold Coast cabaret club will have to pay thousands of dollars to two staff after the workplace watchdog found they were unfairly sacked.

The Fair Work commission found that The Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub did not have grounds to dismiss a former bartender and box office assistant after they revealed a colleague’s confidential salary in private messages.

Commissioner Stephen Crawford ordered the high-end nightclub pay Sierra Louie and Claudia McLeod a combined $30,000 over the incident.

He criticised Project 88, the company that runs the club, after representatives told the two young women they had committed a criminal offence when they spoke about a friend’s new pay rate.

“The way Project 88’s representatives presented the severity of what had occurred during the meetings on February 3, 2023 made it seem like Ms McLeod and Ms Louie had broken into Project 88’s equivalent to a ‘Watergate complex’, stolen key intellectual property secrets and posted them on WikiLeaks,” the commissioner said.

“However, all they had done was privately discuss the salary rate of a friend, and the salary rate was quite unremarkable.”

Ms McLeod, the venue’s box office assistant, was informed of a friend’s salary while at a social dinner before she told Ms Louie about the rate, the commission heard.

Neither woman knew the pay was confidential, with Ms Louie then passing on the information to a former employee in a private message.

According to the Commission’s decision, the messages were discovered by senior club manager Louise Huxson, who found them after accessing the ex-employee’s private social media without their consent on an old work phone.

Ms Huxson is also the wife of one of the venue’s owners, Tony Rigas.

According to the Commission’s decision, she, along with managing director Peter Snee then told the two women they had been sent screenshots of the conversation before telling them it was a “criminal offence to distribute private, confidential information about another employee”.

They informed the pair they had been sacked for “wilful and deliberate behaviour” that was inconsistent with their employment.

Commissioner Crawford found that they had not breached the Corporations Act nor was there any basis “whatsoever” to suggest they had committed a criminal offence.

He also found that Ms Huxson’s conduct was “far more serious than that of either Ms McLeod or Ms Louis”.

“All of this constitutes a terrible way to treat a young employee,” he said.

He ordered the club pay Ms McLeod $12,855 and Ms Louis $18,525 over their dismissals.

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