McKenna warns Tacoma business owners of workplace poster scam

Attorney General Rob McKenna yesterday warned businesses to beware of traveling salesmen who fraudulently claim to be federal government representatives and use coercive tactics to sell labor law posters. Cons were recently reported in the Tacoma area.

“Labor law posters are available for free from state and federal government agencies,” McKenna said. “Businesses can legally sell labor law posters provided they don’t deceive potential customers.While it’s true that employers who fail to post required labor law posters may be fined, unscrupulous salespeople create the impression that immediate compliance through purchase of their products is necessary to escape penalties,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Office was notified that three men in dark suits entered a Tacoma business on June 28 and asked to speak to the manager. According to the store owners, the men claimed to be with the government and said they were there to verify that the business had posted legally required workplace signs.

After the owner informed the visitors that the store does have all the required signs on display, the men demanded to be taken to the employee break room to see for themselves. The owner refused to permit access to the break room. The men then said the business could be fined $5,000-$17,000 for not having the appropriate posters displayed then attempted to sell posters for $50 each from a business called Compliance4Less.

Another Tacoma business owner reportedly purchased posters from the men.

The May 25 increase in the federal minimum wage has many sellers of workplace posters marketing their wares. By July 24, all employers must change their federal minimum wage poster to reflect the increase from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries provides a list of posters required and recommended by state and federal agencies, as well as phone numbers and Web sites where employers can obtain copies, at . Labor and Industries posters can be also picked up at Labor and Industries offices or call 1-800-547-8367 to request copies.