Door-to-Door Candy Sales Operations Sued by Attorney General for Child Labor Violations

“State Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced that a lawsuit has been filed this week against several candy peddlers for violating state child labor laws and coaching children to falsely claim the proceeds from the door-to-door sales are used to support youth programs.“These are not charities providing drug and crime prevention programs for children,” Gregoire said. “These are individuals exploiting children to sell candy for a profit.”The lawsuit was filed in King County against Paridon Paul (Perry) Williams, of Seattle, and Tyval (William) Tate, of Tacoma, who operate Youth In Progress and Team USA. The suit alleges children as young as 11 were recruited to sell candy and other novelty items door-to-door and in front of stores and are often left on their own for hours, unsupervised in unfamiliar neighborhoods.A listed number for a William Tate in Tacoma was disconnected and no longer in service. No forwarding number was given.The children are not part of an organized youth program, according to the AG’s office, but rather are paid for each item they sell, often as much as $1.50 for each $6 box of candy. Some children reportedly are trained to show pre-printed cards to consumers that state, “our main goal is to keep teens busy by providing supervised activities after school and on weekends,” or tell people they are associated with a youth program.Children selling for Youth in Progress often reportedly told consumers the money would go to support Boys and Girls Clubs located in the Tacoma, Federal Way and Kent areas.“These children are often dumped in neighborhoods, some as far away as Portland, and left on their own,” Gregoire said. “Parents of these children are sometimes duped as well, believing their children are adequately supervised and participating in a charitable operation.”The lawsuits allege state labor laws are being violated. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the minimum age children can work in the state without a court order, is 14 for non-agricultural labor. Child labor laws also require a supervising adult be in contact with the child every 15 minutes.These suits were not the first actions taken in recent months against firms using children to sell candy.In August, Nicholas Clay Coles and Suzanne Capek, who conducted business as Tomorrow’s Leaders in Snohomish County, signed a consent decree agreeing to follow state labor laws and to stop claiming the children selling the items are doing so to support a legitimate youth program. If the terms are violated the defendants are liable to pay $20,000 in civil penalties.Christopher Spice, who operated Teens in Action out of Pierce County, signed a similar consent decree in July and has reportedly gone out of business, according to the Attorney General’s Office.Attempts to reach Spice by telephone prior to this morning’s deadline, were unsuccessful.”