Company fined for using alleged priest to coax employees' confessions

The Department of Labor said a California restaurant chain offered a priest to hear employees' confessions about workplace "sins."

A person holds what appears to be a Bible with a cross hanging from it.

A federal judge is ordering a northern California restaurant to pay back $140,000 to 35 employees after using an alleged priest to coax confessions of workplace sins out of workers. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an employee of Che Garibaldi Inc., operator of Taqueria Garibaldi, testified that the company offered a priest to hear workers' confessions during work hours. The employee said the priest encouraged workers to “get the sins out,” and asked them if they had ever been late to work, stolen from their employer or ever did anything to harm the company. 

The company was also accused by the Department of Labor of violating fair labor standards by not properly paying overtime and illegally paying managers from an employee tip pool. 

The Department of Labor claimed the company fired an employee who reported violations to authorities. 

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“Under oath, an employee of Taqueria Garibaldi explained how the restaurant offered a supposed priest to hear their workplace ‘sins’ while other employees reported that a manager falsely claimed that immigration issues would be raised by the department’s investigation,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin. “This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against employees were intended to silence workers, obstruct an investigation and prevent the recovery of unpaid wages.”

Che Garibaldi Inc. operates two Taqueria Garibaldi locations in Sacramento, California, and one in Roseville, California.