Knoxville Juice Bar owner denies allegation of misconduct

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A former employee at the Turkey Creek I Love Juice Bar location said she and other staff members submitted resignation letters after being asked to wear "suggestive t-shirts."

"Very insinuative t-shirts were handed out as new uniform," said Hawkins in the post. "We were told we could use our bodies for more tips, and to ultimately get him more money."

The owner of the Juice Bar said the accusations are not true. Hein Pham said shirts that show the outline of a woman's torso next to the words "squeeze me" are a misprint, and that he never distributed the shirts to employees.

"It's very offensive," said Pham. "The white shirts were a promotional product that were never given out and were misordered and misdesigned way back in April and it was thrown into a box at the Turkey Creek store. We opened the box and realized it and took it away... I would have never passed it out. I wouldn't let my wife wear it. I wouldn't wear it."

Pham said he had problems with some staff members from the time he bought the store. He said they did not like him because of new rules he put in place and because he is a minority.

"The problem we had was there was a group of employees at the store, when we bought the store on May 15th, who refused to give us the key to the shop," said Pham.

A statement from the company says that I Love Juice Bar couldn't find any evidence of wrongdoing.

The statement read, "Harassment is absolutely not tolerated at I Love Juice Bar, which is why our team launched a prompt and thorough investigation into these claims, including interviews with a number of staff members present at the team meeting. We were unable to find conclusive evidence of wrongdoing. Crew member safety, health, and happiness are still our top priority."

In a lengthy Instagram post that has garnered hundreds of likes, Ashely Hawkins explains a team meeting in which she says the employees were "verbally assaulted."

View this post on Instagram

What you are about to read is both hard to write and read. But I ask you to read it all. I will try and keep it brief. Three weeks ago my entire staff at I Love Juice Bar tendered our resignations. The reason for this sudden change of events was because of a team meeting the new owner called. During this meeting he verbally assaulted every single one of my female employees including myself. Very insinuative t-shirts were handed out as a new uniform and with these we were told we could use our bodies for more tips and ultimately to get him more money. He then announced that there would be a new district manager. This man he promoted, from within the company, has already been reported by customers and employees alike as a pervert, a flirt, and overall very unprofessional man. Other things were said and done as well. These are just two examples. I reported these men to corporate HR. And in response they did NOTHING about it. They turned a blind eye to our concerns and let these men continue to work with other, very young females that the new management has hired on in our place. I worked at Juice Bar Turkey Creek for almost four years. I made it my home and, not only my employees, but the customers too were my family. Four years of hard work and it was all washed away by a two hour team meeting where I witnessed this new owner violate every member of my team. I wish to come forward today just to say this is not ok! Corporations must stop turning a blind eye to those who have the courage to speak up. We are not liars. We are not being dramatic. We are men and women who just want the right to come into our place of work and not worry if we will be violated that day. This is not a gender issue this a humanity issue! Things won’t change unless the corporations change. That won’t happen unless we the people bring these issues into the light. #metoo #timesup #metoojuicebar

A post shared by Ashley Hawkins (@frickleshnicks) on

Hawkins alleged that no actions were taken by the company after the employee had been repeatedly reported to HR.

Another former employee, Caroline Bolen told a similar story on Instagram. "So, @ilovejuicebar, I would like to ask, is this t-shirt what you want representing your company? Are these men who you want representing your company? This is not a gender issue. This is a societal issue, an entitlement issue that is perpetuated because corporations refuse to acknowledge it," she said. "I refuse to be treated less than."

Both women say that every employee at their location sent in resignation letters over the issue.

View this post on Instagram

I would like for you all to read this. As many of you know, I have worked at I Love Juice Bar- Turkey Creek for the past 10 months. What I am about to say about this business both infuriates me and breaks my heart. We recently were put under new ownership, which took over both the Turkey Creek and Bearden locations. The shirt that is pictured was created and given to us by our new owner; he encouraged us to wear these shirts at work, planned to give them out as door prizes to our customers at Juice Bar events, and advised us to use our bodies for tips. In addition, the new owner promoted the general manager of Bearden who has sexually harassed both fellow employees and customers. The lack of respect, condescension, and false superiority I experienced from him was appalling. We reached out to corporate, and they have decided to do absolutely nothing about it. In fact, their response was a perfect example of why people can still get away with this without consequence (if you would like to see their public response, check out the comment section of @frickleshnicks last post). So, @ilovejuicebar , I would like to ask, is this t-shirt what you want representing your company? Are these men who you want representing your company? This is not a gender issue. This is a societal issue, an entitlement issue, an issue that is perpetuated because corporations refuse to acknowledge it. All of my co-workers and I sent in our resignations. I refuse to work for a company that promotes sexism and disrespect among fellow employees. Everyone, no matter gender, deserves to feel comfortable in their workplace. Please share this if you feel compelled to do so. Please stand up for yourself, even if it's scary, even if the response is discouraging. Please don't be quiet. I stand with my brave manager Ashley, I stand with my co-workers who have turned into my family, and I stand for myself. I refuse to be treated less than. @ilovejuicebar #metoojuicebar #metoo

A post shared by --caroline bolen-- (@cats_and_caroline) on

Copyright 2019 WVLT. All rights reserved.

View this post on Instagram

What you are about to read is both hard to write and read. But I ask you to read it all. I will try and keep it brief. Three weeks ago my entire staff at I Love Juice Bar tendered our resignations. The reason for this sudden change of events was because of a team meeting the new owner called. During this meeting he verbally assaulted every single one of my female employees including myself. Very insinuative t-shirts were handed out as a new uniform and with these we were told we could use our bodies for more tips and ultimately to get him more money. He then announced that there would be a new district manager. This man he promoted, from within the company, has already been reported by customers and employees alike as a pervert, a flirt, and overall very unprofessional man. Other things were said and done as well. These are just two examples. I reported these men to corporate HR. And in response they did NOTHING about it. They turned a blind eye to our concerns and let these men continue to work with other, very young females that the new management has hired on in our place. I worked at Juice Bar Turkey Creek for almost four years. I made it my home and, not only my employees, but the customers too were my family. Four years of hard work and it was all washed away by a two hour team meeting where I witnessed this new owner violate every member of my team. I wish to come forward today just to say this is not ok! Corporations must stop turning a blind eye to those who have the courage to speak up. We are not liars. We are not being dramatic. We are men and women who just want the right to come into our place of work and not worry if we will be violated that day. This is not a gender issue this a humanity issue! Things won’t change unless the corporations change. That won’t happen unless we the people bring these issues into the light. #metoo #timesup #metoojuicebar

A post shared by Ashley Hawkins (@frickleshnicks) on



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