A Sacramento restaurant, Taqueria Garibaldi, has faced allegations of employing a “priest” to conduct workplace confessions, according to a former employee’s testimony to the US Department of Labor. The employee revealed that during a shift in November 2021, the restaurant’s owners offered staff the opportunity to confess their workplace “sins” to this unidentified person, claiming it would help with their mental health.
However, the confessions took an unusual turn. Instead of allowing them to share their own sins, the priest proceeded to ask work-related questions, including whether they had consumed alcohol, been pulled over for speeding, stolen from the restaurant, arrived late to work, harmed their employer, or had any negative intentions regarding their employment. After speaking with the staff, the priest departed the restaurant alongside one of the owners.
It remains unclear whether the person identified as a priest was, in fact, a legitimate religious figure. The incident came to light during an investigation by the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which uncovered multiple labor law violations by Taqueria Garibaldi’s operator, Che Garibaldi Inc. The violations included failure to pay overtime wages and improper distribution of tips to managers and supervisors.
Throughout the investigation, workers reported that the restaurant management instructed them not to cooperate with the Department of Labor and to provide false information. Employees claimed they faced threats of retaliation and adverse immigration consequences if they assisted the investigation. One worker who had reportedly filed the complaint was terminated by the management.
Additionally, employees stated that they were directed to lie about their weekly working hours when interacting with the Department of Labor. While Che Garibaldi denied discouraging cooperation with the investigation, they ultimately agreed to a consent judgment ordering them to pay $140,000 in back wages and damages to 35 employees. The court also imposed a $5,000 civil money penalty due to the willful nature of the violations and prohibited interference with future Department of Labor investigations or retaliation against workers.
Representatives of the restaurant that hired a fake priest have yet to comment on the allegations. If you find yourself in a situation similar to the one described or facing any labor law violations with your employer in California, it is advisable to take action.
Contact Labor Law Attorneys today to seek professional guidance, understand your rights, and explore the available options for filing a claim. Protect your rights and ensure fair treatment in the workplace.