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Tonight is the annual Night Out for Safety and Liberation, where participants get to “reimagine what public safety means for our community.” It’s a nationwide event that began in 2013, partly in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

THE NEWS: 

Turning Natural, a local juice bar with three D.C. locations (Anacostia, Shaw, and on H Street NE) and another planned for Takoma, will pay more than $10,000 in unpaid wages after a settlement was reached with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). 

Former employee Brandi Jackson was told Monday the settlement secured her $875.33. Jackson worked for Turning Natural’s Anacostia store in 2016. Jackson says she confronted owner Jerri Evans about being underpaid, but says Evans responded she only had to pay employees wages based on Maryland law; Evans also has a store in Maryland.

“I appreciate what she was doing, trying to help bring wellness to the community, but that on the other side, I see a double standard and she doesn’t appreciate me,” Jackson tells City Paper, referencing what she said in her resignation email. 

In June 2018, Attorney General Karl Racine sued Turning Natural, Inc. and Evans for allegedly failing to pay employees minimum wage or overtime and for failing to provide them with legally required paid sick leave. 

The OAG says Turning Natural agreed to a consent judgement to avoid trial, mandating it to: pay $10,646.93 in unpaid wages to 22 employees (the average will be $484 per person); provide seven workers retroactive sick leave, which totals more than 60 hours; pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the District; and initiate wage and sick leave policies.  

Turning Natural is a woman, minority-owned business. When City Paper asked in July why the OAG is pursuing legal action against this company, a spokesperson said Turning Natural was “uncooperative” with a Department of Employment Services (DOES) investigation that concluded in Sept. 2017 that it failed to pay minimum wage to at least three employees who were later named in the lawsuit; none were eligible for a lower tipped minimum wage. 

Another food-service business that the OAG has brought a wage-theft case against is Mitra QSR KNE, LLC, which runs KFC franchises in the city.   

City Paper reached out to Evans for comment but she did not immediately respond. We will provide an update if we hear back.

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So far, the OAG says it’s launched more than 30 investigations into wage theft and worker misclassification since 2017. All have focused on the construction and service industries, fields OAG cites as ones where workers are disproportionately vulnerable. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)  

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This newsletter has been updated. The original version stated that OAG has brought a wage-theft lawsuit against is Mitra QSR KNE, LLC, but it was actually a pre-suit settlement.