Tennis news 2020, Serena Williams ‘underpaid, undervalued’ compared to white players

Serena Williams feels she’s been “underpaid” and “undervalued” compared to white tennis stars despite establishing herself as one of the greatest players the world has ever seen.

The owner of 23 grand slam singes titles has long been an advocate for women and people of colour, and reflected with British Vogue about overcoming obstacles on her rise to the top of her sport.

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Williams came in second on the Forbes rich list of female athletes for 2020, raking in $49.9 million to sit behind only three-time major winner Naomi Osaka, who pulled in $51.8 million.

While she’s reaping the rewards now, that wasn’t always the case earlier in her career but despite her struggles, Williams wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different colour’ or, ‘I want my skin tone to be lighter’,” Williams told Vogue.

“I like who I am, I like how I look, and I love representing the beautiful, dark women out there. For me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The Black Lives Matter movement exploded this year after the death of George Floyd in police custody in America, and Williams believes the tide is slowly turning as people gain a greater appreciation of what life is like on the other side.

“Now, we as Black people have a voice,” Williams said. “At the end of May, I had so many people who were white writing to me saying, ‘I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to go through’.

“I think for a minute they started — not to understand, because I don’t think you can understand — but they started to see.

“I was like, ‘Well, you didn’t see any of this before? I’ve been talking about this my whole career. It’s been one thing after another’.”

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Williams is committed to using her profile to inspire women and drive social change, and also spread messages about body positivity — which was a foreign concept to the 39-year-old coming through the ranks because of the lack of visibility of people who looked like her.

The American famously wore her black catsuit at the 2018 French Open, which she said “represents all the women that have been through a lot with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves”, and she knows she has the power to change people’s lives for the better.

“Someone in my position can show women and people of colour that we have a voice, because Lord knows I use mine,” Williams told Vogue.

“I love sticking up for people and supporting women. Being the voice that millions of people don’t have.”

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David Jones, Country Road underpaid staff $3.7 million

Woolworths Holdings, which is not affiliated with Australian supermarket Woolworths, blamed the underpayments on system errors relating to rostering and payroll systems, with interim chief executive Ian Moir apologising for the incident.


“Our team members should expect to be paid correctly. We deeply regret this has not occurred and apologise unreservedly to our team. We are now focussed on ensuring our team members are paid the money owing to them as quickly as possible,” he said.

Country Road Group’s chief executive officer Scott Fyfe said the cause of the underpayments within the group was primarily related to “poor systems integration” stemming from the 2016 acquisition of menswear company Politix.

“We’ve now completed a thorough review of systems and processes and taken the necessary steps across the group to ensure these errors cannot be repeated,” he said.

These revelations will come as a further blow to David Jones, which is in the midst of a major restructure, closing stores and selling property to reduce its massive debt pile and ensure the future viability of the once-prosperous department store.

Woolworths Holdings has notified the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Australian Taxation Office, and retail union SDA. The company also appointed KPMG to advise on the process.

The retailer is just one of many who have admitted to underpaying staff in recent months, with other major merchants such as Coles, Woolworths, Michael Hill, Super Retail Group, Bunnings and Target all admitting to collectively hundreds of millions in unpaid wages.

The Senate is currently undertaking an inquiry into the unlawful underpayment of employees’ remuneration, which is due to report by early December.

David Jones and Country Road Group employees have been notified of the issues, with repayments plus interest expected to be made by mid-October.

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Romeo’s supermarket group facing class action over claims it underpaid staff by nearly $20m

One of South Australia’s largest independent retail groups has been accused of wage theft that could amount to $20 million in total underpayments to at least 500 employees.

Current and former employees of Romeo’s Retail Group have launched a class action in the Federal Court over allegations dating back to 2014.

The firm representing the workers, Adero Law, has accused the company of failing to pay overtime, penalty rates, allowances and leave loading on annual leave, and of engaging in tactics to minimise wages.

The group has about 50 stores across South Australia and New South Wales.

The law firm estimates more current and former employees are eligible to join the class action, and alleges Romeo’s could be liable to pay back nearly $20 million in unpaid wages and entitlements.

‘One of the darkest times’

Nic Butler, who worked at three different Romeo’s stores between 2016 and 2018, is one of the lead claimants.

Mr Butler started work at the Fairview Park store in Adelaide and described the workload as “intense”, making him feel consistently “overworked and underappreciated”.

He alleges when he started, he was told he would be working a 45-hour week as a full-time employee, but said that, in reality, it often turned into 60 hours a week, “with minimal assistance from other staff”.

“When I was in a managerial position at Erindale, it was a one-man show,” Mr Butler said.

“I ran the store by myself.”

Mr Butler said there was no time to stop because there was no-one else to assist him, and he could not leave until everything was done.

He said the stress of the job was overwhelming.

When he finally gave his notice in 2018, he worked his last Monday to Friday shifts at the Mawson Lakes store.

He said when he finished his last shift, the manager told him they did not have anyone to manage the store that Saturday, and asked if he could work one last shift before he left.

Because he had already completed his rostered hours and Romeo’s didn’t pay overtime, Mr Butler said they asked whether he would work for a $150 store card.

Mr Butler said he worked that Saturday, as a courtesy to his employers, completing a 5:00am to 5:00pm shift.

He claims he was never given the $150 store card, or any form of pay.

He said by the end, working for the retail group had a major impact on his mental health.

“I was putting pressure on my family, I was home late, I was bad-tempered and tired,” he said.

“I wasn’t my usual self when I was working there.”

Mr Butler hopes that by taking part in the class action, he can help make things better for other employees who might be in a similar situation.

$60k underpayment allegation for one worker

Another employee who is part of the class action worked at Romeo’s from 2009 to 2014.

He alleges his contract stipulated he would work 38 hours a week, but he was working between 55 and 60 hours per week.

Adero Law calculates he was underpaid $60,000 by Romeo’s during the time he worked for the company.

Lawyer Ashley Cutchie alleges the wage minimisation tactics were part of a larger issue.

“Romeo’s Retail Group has harboured a culture where excessive hours were expected of all salaried staff, which flowed from the very top of the Romeo’s management,” Ms Cutchie said.

“Salaried employees were consistently rostered hours in excess of their contract terms and were then expected to work beyond those rostered hours.”

He says allegations of wage theft are far from uncommon.

“Unfortunately the last 18 months has seen countless large corporate retailers make announcements of underpayments.”

Romeo’s Retail Group has been contacted by the ABC for comment.

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