Employer Uses Fake Priest in 'Shameless' Bid to Get Dirt on Disgruntled Workers: Feds


It is not unheard of for unethical and dishonest managers to take advantage of employees, but one restaurant might have just reached a new low.

Che Garibaldi Inc., a company that runs two Taqueria Garibaldi — one in Sacramento, California, and one in Roseville, California — is being told to pay up for what the U.S. Department of Labor news release is calling “among the most shameless” of corrupt actions taken by employers.

On June 12, the Department of Labor released a statement saying that an employee of Che Garibaldi Inc. told the feds that the restaurant management had offered a person claiming to be a Catholic priest to hear confessions during work hours.

However, during these confessions, the supposed priest encouraged the employees to “get the sins out” and allegedly asked them if they had ever stolen from the restaurant, been late for work, or wanted to do any harm to their employer.

Turns out, this was not an actual priest, and the man had been a spy planted by the employer to try and discover what the employees were saying about the employer. The Catholic News Agency reported that the man has no ties to the Diocese of Sacramento, according to a diocesan representative.

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This sordid revelation, however, came as part of a wider investigation by the Department of Labor into Che Garibaldi Inc., which revealed even more corruption and mistreatment of workers.

According to the department release, the investigation “found Taqueria Garibaldi denied employees overtime pay for hours over 40 in a workweek, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They also learned the employer paid managers from the employee tip pool illegally, threatened employees with retaliation and adverse immigration consequences for cooperating with the department, and fired one worker who they believed had complained to the department.”

In short, the management of Taqueria Garibaldi allegedly threatened its workers with retaliation if they cooperated with the investigation, and sent a fake priest to ensure that they were not cooperating with the feds.

“This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against employees were intended to silence workers, obstruct an investigation and prevent the recovery of unpaid wages,” Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin said in the department’s news release.

Does this employer deserve a harsher punishment?

Judge William B. Shubb in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has ordered the owners and operators of Che Garibaldi, Inc. to pay $140,000 in damages to 35 employees affected by their actions. The restaurant agreed to the consent judgment, according to the news release.

This whole situation is just awful. Here you have an employer violating the law and taking advantage of his employees, all the while threatening them for working with officials trying to enforce the law.

But what is even more disturbing are the lengths the employer went to to get dirt on its employees to use against them — having a man impersonate a man of God in order to get leverage on its workforce.

This is an absolutely sacrilegious way to get benefit the employer financially. Priests are men who give up their lives in order to serve God and bring souls to Him through their ministry.

By using a fake priest to spy on its employees, this company makes a mockery of the sacrifices that real priests make.

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Apparently, not even the things of God are safe from these stiff employers, who are so blinded by their greed and their love of worldly things, that no bridge is too far for them, even if it means mocking God Himself.

Not to mention, this was done in order so that the employer could cover up even more sinful actions regarding its treatment of its employees.

Unless these restaurant owners repent, there is probably a special place in Hell for them.

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Peter Partoll is a commentary writer for the Western Journal and a Research Assistant for the Catholic Herald. He earned his bachelor's degree at Hillsdale College and recently finished up his masters degree at Royal Holloway University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @p_partoll.