A federal court ordered Sacramento restaurant, Taquería Garibaldi, to pay $140,000 in back wages and damages. An investigation found it underpaid employees, threatened them with immigration consequences and denied breaks.

Also, the restaurant allegedly hired a fake priest to “get the sins out” of workers, as per an employee testimony.

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Taquería Garibaldi server Maria Parra, recalled the restaurant bringing in an alleged priest to hear workers’ confessions.

Parra explained he asked “work-related questions” to “get the sins out” of her. Such as if she had “stolen anything at work.”

Investigator Raquel Alfaro discussed the incident with the Los Angeles Times. Saying that employees felt that restaurant owner Eduardo Hernandez “brought the priest to intimidate them.”

The restaurant allegedly threatened employees with immigration consequences if they filed a report

According to a Department of Labor press release, their Wage and Hour Division’s investigation found that Taqueria Garibaldi denied workers overtime pay. In fact, New York Times reports an employee said owners paid her for 40 hours despite working 50 to 60 hours a week.

The unnamed worker recalled, “I saw my co-workers hide in the walk-in refrigerator to hide and take a break to eat,” explaining employees could not sit down and eat.

Additionally, the employer paid managers from the employee tip pool and fired a worker for allegedly complaining to the Department of Labor. Dishearteningly, the restaurant threatened employees with negative immigration consequences if they contacted the department.

“Employees reported that a manager falsely claimed that immigration issues would be raised by the department’s investigation,” San Francisco Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin explained. “This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against employees were intended to silence workers.”

In effect, the court ordered Che Garibaldi Inc., operator of two Taquería Garibaldi restaurants, and owners and operators Eduardo Hernandez, Hector Manual Martinez Galindo and Alejandro Rodriguez to pay the $140,000 in back wages and damages last month.

Apart from underpaying employees, the taquería hired an alleged priest to hear workplace confessions

In a plot twist, Taquería Garibaldi also hired an alleged priest to ask employees about their workplace “sins.”

Employee Parra wrote in a sworn affidavit, “[The priest] asked if I ever got pulled over for speeding, if I drank alcohol, or if I had stolen anything.”

“The priest mostly had work-related questions, which I thought was strange,” the server recalled. “The priest asked if I had stolen anything at work, if I was late to my employment, if I did anything to harm my employer, and if I had any intention towards my employment.”

Parra explained, “I found the conversation to be strange and unlike normal confessions.” Other reports say employers hired the priest to help workers “with mental health.”

Even worse, the Los Angeles Times reports several employees used the priest’s services.

As per investigator Alfaro, employees “found it odd because the priest was asking questions regarding their loyalty to the employer and to the business.”

The Diocese of Sacramento spoke to the Catholic News Agency to clear the air about that supposed priest.

Bryan J. Visitacion, director of media and communications for the Diocese of Sacramento, discussed the incident:

“Our own investigation found no evidence of any connection between the Diocese of Sacramento and the alleged priest in this matter.”

“While we don’t know who the person in question was,” they continued. “We are completely confident he was not a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento.”

The DOL wrote in its press release that the restaurant’s use of the alleged priest to get workplace confessions is “among the most shameless” scams they have seen.