Restaurant Slapped with $140,000 Fine for Hiring Fake Priest to Extract ‘Confessions’ from Employees
We've heard of employers who use surveillance and social media to monitor and micro-manage their employees, but this is a whole new level.
A California taqueria chain has been handed a jaw-dropping fine of $140,000 by the Department of Labor for practices that were beyond unethical. Taqueria Garibaldi, with locations in Sacramento and Roseville, hired a fake priest to squeeze "confessions" out of their very own workers. I mean, seriously, who does that?
According to a recent announcement by the Department of Labor, an investigation and subsequent court case revealed a laundry list of violations committed by the owners and operators of Taqueria Garibaldi. Buckle up, because this story gets wilder with each detail revealed. Not only did they illegally pocket employee tips, but they also denied hardworking employees their rightful overtime pay. But wait, it gets even crazier! They actually thought it would be a brilliant idea to hire a pretend priest to uncover any misdeeds committed by their staff.
Maria Parra, a former employee, spilled the beans (sorry, I had to) in federal court. She disclosed that the taqueria had the audacity to offer their workers a so-called priest during working hours. According to TODAY, this sham of a priest "prodded employees" to confess their "sins," which, get this, were all related to their employment. Can you imagine? Instead of seeking divine forgiveness, these poor souls were interrogated about stealing, tardiness, ill intentions toward the company, and even their thoughts on the job. It's like something out of a surreal comedy.
The owners and operators of Taqueria Garibaldi declined to comment when approached by TODAY.com. No remorse, no accountability. No surprise.
The Department of Labor, understandably outraged, didn't hold back in its scathing news release. They declared that they've seen their fair share of corrupt employers trying to swindle workers and intimidate them, but this was definitely tops for shamelessness.
As the investigation continued, even more labor law violations tumbled out of the taqueria's closet. Not only did they deny overtime pay, but they also brazenly dipped into the employee tip pool to fatten the wallets of their managers. And if that wasn't enough, they had the gall to threaten employees with retaliation and adverse immigration consequences if they dared to cooperate with the department.
Justice, thankfully, was served. In a consent judgment reached on May 8, the court ordered Che Garibaldi Inc. and its three owners and operators to cough up $70,000 in back wages, an equal amount in liquidated damages, and an additional $5,000 in civil penalties.
The regional solicitor of labor, Marc Pilotin, minced no words in expressing his outrage. He condemned the taqueria's deplorable attempts to silence and punish their own employees. Pilotin emphasized that the Department of Labor will swiftly intervene to protect workers' rights, regardless of their immigration status.
Not only are they dealing with backlash from the Department of Labor, but the court of public opinion is not being kind to the shady business either. Since the ruling, the taqueria has found itself drowning in a sea of one-star reviews and scathing comments on platforms like Yelp and Facebook. And honestly, can you blame the public? With such outrageous behavior, it's no wonder people are eager to express their disgust and disappointment.
As we attempt to digest this SMH moment, one thing is crystal clear: this taqueria chain has earned itself a place in the hall of shame for its mind-boggling antics. It serves as a stark reminder that there are some employers out there who will literally stop at nothing to exploit their workers and trample upon their rights. No worker should be subjected to the absurdity of fake priests or any other form of workplace intimidation.
See the full story and even more shocking details here via TODAY.