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Workplace Confessions: Employer uses a fake priest to get employees to confess workplace sins & intimidate employees to avoid compliance with labor laws

Taqueria Garibaldi, a Mexican restaurant in Northern California, has been ordered to pay $140,000 in back wages and damages to 35 employees after it hired someone to impersonate a priest in order to elicit confessions from its employees.

According to the United States Department of Labor, restaurant owner Che Garibaldi encouraged employees to confess to the fake priest in order to “get the sins out.” During the “confessions”, the fake priest asked detailed questions to determine whether the workers had committed “sins” such as being late for work, stealing money from the restaurant, or generally having “bad intentions” toward their employer.

Not surprisingly, an investigation into this behavior found that the restaurant had committed a number of further employment violations, including denying overtime pay, fabricating timesheets, distributing employee tips to management, and threatening employees with “immigration consequences” if they cooperated with investigators. The owners were also shown to have instructed employees to falsify employment records by telling investigators that they worked only 40 hours a week, took 30-minute paid breaks, were given two days off a week, and were paid only with checks. The Department of Labor described the restaurant’s actions as “among the most shameless” efforts they have seen to intimidate workers and avoid compliance with labor laws.

While this may be an extreme example of workplace wage and hour violations, all employers should take caution in their wage and hour practices to ensure compliance with labor laws.  Failure to comply with such requirements or forcing employees to manipulate timecards or other practices can expose an employer to hefty damages and penalties.  To review your wage and hour practices to ensure that you are CA labor law compliant, contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (photo credit: Depositphotos.com)


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