A California taco chain used a fake priest to monitor its employees and try to get them to confess to professional “sins” like showing up late, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
The Taqueria Garibaldi brand has introduced a pastor to its staff. The impostor worked to extract confessions from them, encouraging them to clear their consciences about possible wrongdoing in their workplace.
The scheme, revealed by an investigation, was “undoubtedly” one of the “most brazen” frauds uncovered by the Ministry of Labour, the administration condemned in a press release in mid-June.
As part of the investigation, an employee testified that the fake priest urged employees to “confess their sins” and asked if they ever stole from the company or did anything harmful.
The chain, which has restaurants in Sacramento and Roseville, did not pay many employees overtime.
At the end of the investigation, the court ruled to pay the company’s employers $140,000 in wages and damages to 35 employees, the ministry explained.
The investigation found that restaurant managers were paid black-table wages from employee tips and that employees were threatened with “immigration consequences” if they cooperated with the Department of Labor.
“This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against its employees are aimed at silencing workers, preventing investigations and collecting unpaid wages,” said Mark Pilotin, regional attorney for the Department of Labor in San Francisco.
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento told Catholic News Agency that the diocese had no connection to the person who was presented as the pastor. “Although we do not know who the person is, we are certain that he is not a priest from the Diocese of Sacramento,” he said.
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