Some Missouri businesses are getting letters from a company offering to sell them state-and-federally-required employee rights posters for $60, but a couple of state agencies say the letters are fishy.
The letter from the the Missouri Labor Law Posters Service warns that companies without the posters could be fined up to $7,000 and face civil liability actions, but it says compliance with the law can be achieved by ordering these posters.
The kicker is that state and federal labor departments provide those posters free. Department spokesman Wanda Seeney says the department, in the past, has issued press releases "alerting the media to the fraud" when similar schemes have come to its attention. She says previous solicitations like this have been turned over to the Attorney General.
So we called John Fougere in the Attorney General’s office who told us the poster offer sounds "eerily similar" to a company at the same St.Louis address that the Attorney General sued in 2006.
Two years ago a company at that address called itself the Missouri Food Service Compliance Center and tried to sell hand-washing posters to food service companies, posters which also are free. The Attorney General’s office sued got reimbursement for all who bit on the scheme and got a court order making the parent company, Mandatory Poster Agency Incorporated of Lansing Michigan pay the state $7,500.
Missouri Labor Law Posters does mention within its solicitation that "certain posters may also be available free from the issuing government agencies." But the words are written after more than five lines of talking about possible penalties and civil liability suits and the mandatory nature of the posters and are followed with "Compliance with State and Federal posting requirements may be achieved by responding to the order form below. Please respond today."
Missouri Labor Law Poster Service offers to sell seven posters, but Seeney says only four posters are required by state law. It also is offering to sell six federal posters.
A woman named "Angela" who spoke to us by telephone says the company charges a fee because it combines all of the posters into one and laminates it for durability. Another person who answered the phone at the company office refused to record an interview with us and hung up.
"Scare tactics are common practices used by people who are attempting to separate small businesses from their money," Fougere.
He suggests anyone getting one of these letters file a complaint with the Attorney General.