Restaurant Ordered To Pay $140,000 To Staff For Hiring Fake Priest To Extract Confessions

Restaurant Ordered To Pay $140,000 To Staff For Hiring Fake Priest To Extract Confessions
Cover Image Source: Pexels/Helena Lopes

A restaurant in California has been ordered to pay $140,000 in back wages and damages to its employees. The US Department of Labor described the actions taken by the restaurant as "the most shameless" acts of corruption against its staff. As reported by CNN Business, the case involved the hiring of a fake priest to extract confessions from employees during work hours, creating a hostile and unethical work environment.

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Che Garibaldi, the owner of Taqueria Garibaldi, hired a fake priest to hear confessions from workers, according to testimony provided by an employee. The confessions were not related to religious matters but rather focused on workplace issues. Employees were asked if they had been late for work, stolen money from the restaurant or harbored negative intentions towards their employer. This practice, aimed at extracting "sins," created an uncomfortable and intrusive atmosphere for the employees.

“This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against employees were intended to silence workers, obstruct an investigation and prevent the recovery of unpaid wages,” revealed Marc Pilotin, regional solicitor of labor, per TODAY

Image Source: Pexels/On Shot
Image Source: Pexels/On Shot

The Investigation Unveils Corruption

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During the investigation, the US Department of Labor discovered additional disturbing practices within the restaurant. It was revealed that the management denied employees their rightful overtime pay and managers were paid bonuses from the employee tip pool, a violation of labor regulations. Furthermore, the investigators found evidence of attempts to intimidate employees by raising false concerns about immigration issues arising from the investigation. These actions were designed to hinder the investigation and silence workers.

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The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento conducted an inquiry to determine any potential connection between the fake priest and their diocese upon learning about the case. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of any affiliation between the fake priest and the diocese. In an email to the New York Times, Bryan Visitacion, a spokesman for the Diocese of Sacramento revealed, “The person in question is not a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento.”

This revelation further highlighted the deceitful nature of the restaurant's actions.

Image Source: Pexels/Anna Urlapova
Image Source: Pexels/Anna Urlapova

Following the investigation, Taqueria Garibaldi along with three other restaurant owners and operators were instructed to compensate 35 affected employees with  $70,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 35 employees, totaling $140,000 and $5,000 in civil penalties "due to the willful nature of their violations."

These penalties serve as a firm reminder that labor exploitation and unethical practices shall not be condoned.

The Regional Solicitor of Labor, Marc Pilotin, condemned the restaurant's attempts to silence its employees and obstruct the investigation. By retaliating against workers, the employer intended to intimidate and discourage cooperation, hindering the recovery of unpaid wages. Such despicable actions perpetuate a culture of fear and undermine the rights and dignity of workers.

Image Source: Pexels/
Kristina Paukshtite
Image Source: Pexels/ Kristina Paukshtite

This case serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding labor standards and protecting the rights of employees. Employers must ensure that their workplaces are safe, respectful and compliant with labor laws. Any attempts to exploit or mistreat workers will be met with legal consequences and damage to the organization's reputation.

Moving Forward: Accountability and Reform

While the monetary compensation provides some relief to the affected employees, it is crucial to address the systemic issues that allowed such unethical practices to persist. It is the responsibility of both employers and regulatory bodies to create an environment where workers feel safe to voice their concerns and are protected from exploitation.

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