How a Fake Priest Led to a $140,000 Fine for a California Restaurant!

A Mexican restaurant in California is in hot water for allegedly hiring a fake priest to extract confessions from its workers. It has also received a court order to pay $140,000 to its workers as compensation.

The US Department of Labor stated that an employee testified in court that Che Garibaldi, owner of Taqueria Garibaldi, which operates two branches in California, offered a person who identified as a priest to hear their confessions during work hours.

"The priest urged workers to 'get their sins out,' and asked employees if they had stolen from the employer, been late for work, had done anything to harm their employer or if they had bad intentions toward their employer," a statement from the US Department of Labor said.

The Department of Labor did not identify the fake priest hired by Garibaldi.
Taqueria Garibaldi and its owners and operators did not respond to requests for comment. In response to the incident, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento told the Catholic News Agency that their investigation "found no evidence of any connection" with the alleged priest.

Authorities uncovered more findings during their investigation into the restaurant and its owner. They found that Taqueria Garibaldi denied employees overtime pay while managers illegally received bonuses from the employee tip pool. Investigators also found that the restaurant threatened to retaliate against its employees and "adverse immigration consequences" for cooperating with the Department of Labor. According to the statement, Taqueria Garibaldi even fired one worker they suspected of complaining to the department.

As a result of these labor rights violations and the hiring of a fake priest, Che Garibaldi, along with owners and operators Eduardo Hernandez, Hector Manual Martinez Galindo, and Alejandro Rodriguez, were ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to pay $140,000 in back wages and damages to a total of 35 employees, along with an additional $5,000 in civil penalties.

Marc Pilotin, a regional solicitor of labor for Region IX, described the restaurant’s attempts at retaliation as despicable, while federal investigators called the restaurant’s act of hiring a fake priest to extract confessions from workers a shameful act of corruption.

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