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A Restaurant Hired a Priest to ‘Get the Sins Out’ of Its Workers

A Restaurant Hired a Priest to ‘Get the Sins Out’ of Its Workers

A Sacramento restaurant has found itself at the center of a scandal involving the hiring of a priest to uncover any wrongdoings committed by its staff members, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The department initiated an investigation into Taqueria Garibaldi after receiving reports of potential labor law violations, particularly regarding the denial of overtime pay to workers. The DOL discovered several violations, including the restaurant’s unlawful practice of paying managers using funds from the employee tip pool. Moreover, it was revealed that the establishment had resorted to threats of “retaliation and adverse immigration consequences” to dissuade workers from cooperating with the investigation.

One employee also provided testimony in federal court detailing how the restaurant brought in a priest during work hours to speak with employees. This individual, whose authenticity as a clergy member remains uncertain to the DOL, allegedly undertook the task of coaxing confessions from employees to “get the sins out” of their workplace. The alleged priest probed workers about potential theft, tardiness, acts of harm towards management or “any bad intentions” harbored against the establishment.

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

As a result of their violations of labor law, the restaurant owners reached a settlement with the DOL. They agreed to pay a total of $140,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to the 35 affected employees, in addition to an extra $5,000 to the DOL due to the willful nature of their transgressions.

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