(KTXL) — The owner of two Sacramento-area restaurants illegally denied $70,000 in overtime wages and allegedly offered workers the services of a “priest” to confess “workplace sins” to, the U.S. Labor Department said.
The Labor Department said the owners of two locations of the northern California Mexican food chain Taqueria Garibaldi also “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.”
Video Above: Previous coverage of Taqueria Garibaldi labor concerns
Che Garibaldi Inc., which operates two Taqueria Garibaldi locations in Sacramento and Roseville, agreed to pay $70,000 in back wages and $70,000 in damages to 35 employees.
The company will also pay $5,000 in civil penalties.
According to the Labor Department, an employee testified that the person who identified as a priest asked workers if they had stolen from the employer, been late for work, had done anything to harm their employer, or if they had bad intentions toward their employer.
Under oath, an employee of Taqueria Garibaldi explained how the restaurant offered a supposed priest to hear their workplace ‘sins’ while other employees reported that a manager falsely claimed that immigration issues would be raised by the department’s investigation,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco.
“This employer’s despicable attempts to retaliate against employees were intended to silence workers, obstruct an investigation and prevent the recovery of unpaid wages,” Pilotin added.