The juice chain will pay over $10,000 to 22 employees, returning an average of $484 to each affected worker to account for unpaid overtime and sub-minimum wages. Last summer’s lawsuit from the office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleged Jerri Evans, owner of the 5-year-old cafe, failed to pay workers the legal minimum wage since 2015. In the suit, named employees were paid hourly wages $1 below what was legal.
Evans’s veggie-focused juice bars center on cleanse plans and elixirs like “Green Latifah” and the “50 Shades of Green,” with healthy snacks like açaí bowls and black bean burgers on flaxseed.
The suit, filed in D.C. Superior Court’s civil division, also said some employees were denied paid sick leave benefits and overtime. As part of the settlement to avoid trial, the brand will offer retroactive sick leave to seven current employees and pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the District for violating the city’s wage laws.
The juice bar currently has four area locations in Anacostia, Capitol Hill, Shaw, and District Heights, with another en route to Takoma Park. It’s unclear whether its previously announced MGM National Harbor location is still a go. Each location is staffed by about five to six employees.
Turning Natural also must adjust their employment procedures and payroll practices to comply with the District’s Minimum Wage Revision Act and the Sick and Safe Leave Act, with 60 days to prove their compliance. In July, the D.C. minimum wage raised to $14 per hour.
In 2017, the OAG stepped up wage theft enforcement and has launched more than 30 investigations into wage theft and worker misclassification. OAG’s work has resulted in actions against a national electrical contracting firm and KFC franchises.