US restaurant fined $140,000 for hiring fake priest to make workers confess to ‘workplace sins’

In some unfortunate cases, certain managers may go to extremes to exploit and mistreat their workers. These actions can range from creating hostile work environments to engaging in various forms of physical and emotional abuse.

Such managers may manipulate and intimidate employees, ignore their welfare, and violate their rights in pursuit of personal power or gain.

In a remarkable story of malicious corporate desperation, a United States employer recently embarked on an unprecedented quest for control and compliance.

Che Garibaldi, the owner of a California restaurant chain, has faced heavy criticism for resorting to extreme tactics to extract confessions from his employees.

Garibaldi, who owns two Taqueria Garibaldi restaurants in Sacramento and one in Roseville, allegedly hired a fraudulent priest to question his staff about their alleged “sins” against the company.

As a result, the US Department of Labor has issued a directive requiring Garibaldi to compensate its employees $140,000 (more than Rs 1 crore) in back wages and damages.

A civil penalty of $5,000 (more than Rs 4 lakhs) has been imposed.

Federal investigators have deemed this act one of the most egregious displays of corruption committed by an employer against its workforce.

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A civil court case has established that Taqueria Garibaldi has committed numerous violations due to an investigation by the Department of Labor. These violations include illegally diverting employee tips to managers, denying employees overtime pay, and involving a fraudulent priest in an attempt to uncover alleged staff misconduct.

The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has officially confirmed that the person posing as a priest had no affiliation with their diocese.

This revelation further underscores the deceptive actions taken by Taqueria Garibaldi in its misguided quest to uncover wrongdoing within its workforce.

A spokesperson for the diocese stated: “While we do not know who the person in question was, we are completely certain that he was not a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento.”

The diocese has found no evidence of any connection between the fake priest and his religious institution.

In federal court, María Parra, a former employee of Taqueria Garibaldi, provided testimony that shed light on the questionable practices that take place inside the restaurant.

Parra revealed that employees were allowed to confess their “sins” to an individual disguised as a priest during work hours. However, these confessions focused solely on matters related to his employment.


The imposter priest reportedly questioned employees about theft, delay, harm caused to the employer, and perceived harmful intentions towards their work.

Simultaneously, Taqueria Garibaldi received a clear and explicit directive as part of the court verdict.

The restaurant chain was prohibited from obstructing the rights of its employees as workers.

The court emphasized that the company must refrain from interfering with the ongoing investigations carried out by the relevant departments. In addition, Taqueria Garibaldi was instructed to refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices, threatening or improperly firing any employee who may have interacted with the investigators.

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Garibaldi and the owners of other restaurant chains have not responded to these allegations.

His position on the matter is unknown.

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