The unnamed 18-year-old labourer was contracted by the now-defunct Sunshine Coast business to dig trenches and lay cables on behalf of NBN Co in June 2017.
In total, the worker carried out 150 hours of work around South-East Queensland without any payment, according to a ruling from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).
Following a case heard in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane, the former director of Attain Solutions was ordered back-pay the employee $3,945 (plus interest) in wages and entitlements, as well as the $41,040 penalty.
The ourt heard that the employee texted the company's director asking for a reason why he was not being paid so he could tell his partner: "Why our bills aren’t getting paid and why we don’t have food".
A judgement found that the business's director deliberately breached FWO obligations to employees, and had previously received four compliance notices and two cautions in 2016.
The court also found the former director also breached workplace laws by failing to comply with a Notice to Produce records or documents issued during the FWO investigation.
“We will not tolerate employers blatantly breaching workplace laws by failing to pay an employee their lawful wages for work performed,” FWO Sandra Parker said.
“Employers should note that we treat the exploitation of young workers very seriously, who can be particularly vulnerable if it is their first job.”
Although Attain Solutions was placed in liquidation in 2018, the company's former director remains the director of another company operating in the civil construction industry known as Attain Infrastructure.
As such, Judge Michael Jarrett claimed there was a need to impose a penalty that deterred him from breaching workplace laws in future.