CA Restaurant Brings in Fake Priest to Hear Employees’ Confessions

AJR_photo /
AJR_photo /

Talk about bad bosses! A chain of Mexican restaurants in California has entered into a federal settlement with the Department of Labor for some truly interesting violations. One of the things that the owners pulled on their employers was sending in a fake priest to try to get Catholic employees to confess their sins against the owners.

Che Garibaldi is the company that owns the chain of Taqueria Garibaldi restaurants in the Sacramento area. The Department of Labor says that the owners sent an imposter pretending to be a Catholic priest into the restaurants. One employee testified that in 2021, a restaurant manager “helpfully” offered to let the workers give confessions during work hours. A worker named Maria Parra took him up on that offer.

“I found the conversation to be strange and unlike normal confessions,” she testified. “He asked if I ever got pulled over for speeding, if I drank alcohol, or if I had stolen anything. The priest mostly had work-related questions, which I thought was strange.”

The priest also asked employees to confess whether they had stolen money from the cash register, showed up late for work, or did anything to harm their owner.

When the Department of Labor started investigating Che Garibaldi, the managers threatened to turn all the workers into ICE if they spoke to any of the investigators. Naturally, they had been paying the workers under the table less than California’s $14-an-hour minimum wage.

Under the settlement agreement, Che Garibaldi now has to pay $70,000 in back wages to 35 employees and another $75,000 in damages. The fake priest was never identified, but the Department of Labor determined conclusively that the man was not a member of the Sacramento Archdiocese.