DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller asked a Polk County judge on Wednesday to order a Michigan-based labor law poster seller to provide information sought by the Consumer Protection Division.
Mandatory Poster Agency Inc., headquartered in Lansing, Mich., sells labor law posters to Iowa workplaces. The company and its owners/managers, Thomas Fata, Steven Fata and Joseph Fata, failed to respond to formal requests seeking information about the company's past employees and Iowa customers.
According to Miller's application to enforce, MPA has done business in Iowa under the names Iowa Healthcare Compliance Center, Iowa Labor Law Poster Service and Iowa Food Service Compliance Center.
The application alleges that under these names, the company has made telemarketing calls and sent out notices to Iowa businesses, churches, charities and schools.
The enforcement application alleges that MPA's advisories featured official sounding names, terms and symbols that could make a workplace administrator believe mistakenly that MPA was itself an agency of government or was acting on behalf of authorities.
The company maintains a mailing address on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., allegedly, Miller said, for the sole purpose of misleading workplaces about MPA's quasi-governmental status.
"Our concerns include the fact that some mailed notices appeared to threaten penalties -- even jail -- for failure to buy this company's posters," Miller said. "And some of the company's telemarketing calls could mislead Iowans by making it seem that the caller was contacting existing customers to renew or update earlier arrangements, rather than calling new prospects to get an initial sale."
According to the application, MPA was earlier the focus of law enforcement proceedings in 23 states and by the federal government.
Miller said earlier settlements required MPA to make certain disclosures in its advertisements and alleged that the company's marketing still created false impressions through conflicting messages.
"Busy managers and administrators of Iowa's small businesses and other workplaces should not be subjected to confusing messages about what they have to do to comply with legal posting requirements," Miller said.
Miller asked that the district court schedule a hearing and then order MPA and its owner/managers to cooperate with his inquiry.
The attorney general also asked that the company be prohibited from doing business in Iowa until it produced the required information.