A 20-Year-Old Claims She Was Fired From Grill’d For Trying To Get Paid More Than The Minimum Wage

"We're made to feel so replaceable. And I just can't believe they can get away with that."

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The Grill’d burger chain prides itself on being a socially responsible business; its Local Matters program gives money to small charity and community groups, and the company takes pains to emphasise that all its meat products are ethically sourced.

But the chain has found itself in hot water over its alleged treatment of workers over the last few days, with a former employee claiming she was fired after advocating for a pay rise for her and her colleagues. Until recently, 20-year-old Kahlani Pyrah was an employee at a Grill’d restaurant in Melbourne’s Camberwell. Kahlani alleges that she and fellow Grill’d staff were being paid below the minimum wage, with no overtime or penalty rates, because they were locked into a WorkChoices-era contract.

When Kahlani brought the contract up with her employers and contacted union United Voice, it initially seemed as though she and the other Grill’d staff would be paid what they were owed — Grill’d management promised the staff pay rises and back pay, so long as the workers stayed on the WorkChoices contract.

But after management stalled on the deal, Kahlani applied to have her existing contract terminated by the Fair Work Commission in favour of one that paid award wages. Two days later, a bullying complaint was filed by her assistant manager. She was fired by Grill’d nine days later.

Kahlani and United Voice have taken Grill’d to court in a case that will be heard today, and have begun a petition campaign calling on Grill’d to give Kahlani her job back and pay their employees award wages. The petition has gathered almost 9,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Grill’d has been fielding some pretty vigorous customer feedback on its Facebook page.

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Speaking to The Age, a spokesperson for Grill’d said their claims were “vigorously denied by management and would be strongly defended”.