Mr VIP claims ‘unfair dismissal’ in $500 tip row
A GOLD Coast strip club owner and his iconic VIP host are having a spectacular public falling out over an alleged $500 tip.
Hollywood Showgirls owner Craig Duffy and longtime streetside frontman Jimmy Ozturk are locking horns at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) with the latter claiming unfair dismissal against the company which runs the strip club.
Mr Ozturk had worked as Hollywood Showgirls' VIP host in Surfers Paradise for 11 years until his departure late last year.
At the time, the 69-year-old told the Bulletin he was retiring his long-held streetside post to spend more time with grandkids and travel with his wife.
But a FWC decision granting him a green light to pursue an unfair dismissal claim details an ugly row unfolding between him and Mr Duffy who founded Hollywood.
The FWC decision summarises Mr Ozturk's claim that in September last year a Hollywood patron "allegedly paid (Mr Ozturk) a $500 tip".
"On 10 October, 2017, the Employer's director, Mr Craig Duffy, advised (Mr Ozturk) he was suspended for stealing $500 from (the patron)," the FWC decision says.
Mr Ozturk met his employer in late October and was told he "was still suspended", the decision says.
Just under three weeks later on November 15, Mr Ozturk was paid out $4858.20 for his final Hollywood entitlements. The next day he filed for unfair dismissal.
At the initial FWC hearing three weeks ago Mr Ozturk's lawyer Jason Murakami read out a text message from Mr Duffy to his client: "I've investigated a complaint re the $500 you took off a client five weeks ago. Effective immediately, I'm suspending you. The evidence is overwhelming, it's not good ... $500 off the customer's not on. It's been a long time but retiring gracefully is the best option."
Mr Murakami told the FWC further text messages from Mr Duffy to Mr Ozturk say he is "permanently suspended until I say so ... if you want, go find another job ... customer complaint you taking $500 is not (expletive) on, end of story".
But Mr Murakami also produced a text sent by the Showgirls patron to Mr Ozturk about the matter, saying: "Best of luck with the boss. Like I said, if he feels like he needs to call me about the money, you have my number. For me it was no big deal but for him it's like the Titanic sinking. I think everything will be good when he sees it's all legit."
Mr Murakami said in submissions he had provided material to the FWC showing Mr Ozturk had done nothing wrong and clearing him of allegations of stealing in relation to the $500 tip.
Mr Duffy nor a representative for him or his company appeared at the hearing.
The row is set to erupt further with the FWC ruling Mr Ozturk's application for unfair dismissal was lodged within the time required and could proceed.
The employment dispute is a long way from the harmonious relationship Mr Duffy and Mr Ozturk once shared.
Mr Duffy, reflecting in the Bulletin in late 2016 on his VIP host's 35-year run as a Gold Coast nightclub frontman, called him "a tourist icon".
"I travel interstate often and one thing people always ask me is 'Is that immaculately dressed cool guy Jimmy still there?'," Mr Duffy said at the time.
Known for his snappy suits, Mr Duffy added Mr Ozturk was a "good look for the business, it's class, a bit old school and what we're about".
Mr Ozturk spoke about Mr Duffy in similarly glowing terms in a 2014 Bulletin profile: "Duffy is very honest, very smart when it comes to business. He looks after all his staff, pays well. If you have a problem, you can talk to him. He'll actually try to help you."
Mr Ozturk's lawyer Jason Murakami told the Bulletin yesterday: "The Fair Work Commission's recent decision is welcomed by my client and he looks forward to the directors of his former employer being cross-examined under oath at trial."
Mr Duffy had not responded to Bulletin messages for comment by deadline.
DIARY OF GLITTER STRIP FALLING OUT
Hollywood Showgirls owner and founder Craig Duffy and the venue's streetside VIP frontman of 11 years Jimmy Ozturk were once a formidable team - not anymore.
2006: Jimmy Ozturk starts for Hollywood Showgirls as VIP host and streetside promo boss;
December, 2014: Hollywood Showgirls marks 10th birthday, Mr Ozturk tells Bulletin Mr Duffy is honest, smart, looks after staff and pays well.
December, 2016: Mr Ozturk marks 35 years streetside in Surfers Paradise as a VIP nightclub host, Mr Duffy recalls the first time he met him three decades earlier: "I used to sneak in when I was under 18. Jimmy was on the door ... always in a suit. He's a likeable personality, dresses immaculate, always positive, always happy".
September, 2017: Hollywood Showgirls patron allegedly tips Mr Ozturk $500.
October 10: Mr Duffy advises Mr Ozturk he is suspended for allegedly "stealing $500" from the patron.
October 18: Mr Duffy allegedly texts Mr Ozturk: "If you want, go find another job."
October 24: Patron allegedly texts Mr Ozturk: "Best of the luck with the boss. Everything will be all good when he sees it's all legit."
October 25: Mr Ozturk's employer advises he is still suspended.
October 29: Mr Ozturk tells the Bulletin he has retired from Hollywood, saying he needs a rest and wants to spend more time with family.
November 15: Mr Ozturk receives final payment of $4858.20 for employee entitlements.
November 16: Mr Ozturk lodges application with Fair Work Commission (FWC) alleging unfair dismissal.
December 5: Mediation attempt fails.
May 4, 2018: FWC decision says Mr Ozturk's unfair dismissal application is within the required time frame to proceed.