Doctor fined for obstructing industrial inspector

Wageline newsletter March 2017

A Perth doctor has recently been ordered to pay a penalty of $4000 plus disbursements for obstructing an investigation into whether he correctly paid one of his workers.

The Industrial Magistrates Court ordered the penalties against Dr Patrick Nugawela in a default judgment last month after finding he had obstructed an industrial inspector from the Department of Commerce.

Dr Nugawela failed to provide relevant employment records to the inspector when required to do so.

When the inspector attended Dr Nugawela’s surgery in Greenwood with another inspector, Dr Nugawela refused to answer questions and ordered the inspectors off the premises.  He also instructed a staff member not to answer the inspectors’ questions.

Department of Commerce Director Lorraine Field said the penalties reflected the seriousness of Dr Nugawela’s conduct.

“Industrial inspectors have statutory powers to investigate complaints from employees where appropriate,” Ms Field said.  “Employers are obliged to provide records when required to do so – it’s not optional.”

The Court also ordered that Dr Nugawela provide the employment records to the inspector.

“If Dr Nugawela does not provide the records under court order, he may commit an offence and the Department will take further proceedings as necessary,” Ms Field said.

The Department’s investigation into whether the worker was correctly paid is ongoing.  The worker no longer works for Dr Nugawela.