DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced an agreement on Monday with a Michigan labor law poster sales company that allegedly misled Iowa workplaces about state requirements and its products.
The Lansing-based Mandatory Poster Agency Inc. and owners Joseph Fata, Thomas Fata and Steven Fata allegedly misled Iowans into thinking the company was a government agency or was acting on behalf of the government. The company allegedly convinced Iowans that they were required to buy the company's posters to comply with federal and state workplace posting requirements.
Under the terms of an assurance of voluntary compliance, MPA and the Fatas agreed to change their marketing and sales practices. The company will also pay $30,000 to the state's consumer education and litigation fund. MPA denies any liability or wrongdoing.
"Deceptive efforts to get Iowa businesses and other employers to buy these posters are especially troubling, since posters that meet all of the legal requirements are available for free from Iowa Workforce Development," Miller said. "Employers didn't have to pay a penny more for these than they'd pay for a state road map at a rest area. The state provides them for free."
MPA has been the focus of law enforcement proceedings by the federal government and in 23 states. Miller said that earlier settlements required MPA to make disclosures in its advertisements and expressed concern that the marketing of the company still created false impressions through conflicting messages.
Under the terms of the agreement, MPA may not mislead workplaces regarding its location, its status as a governmental agency or its association with a governmental entity. Additionally, MPA may not use a name including the terms agency or compliance center, may not use government look-alike logos such as a bald eagle, may not use a Washington mailing address, may not misrepresent workplace posting requirements and laws, and may not misrepresent that its products are mandatory or approved by government agencies.
Iowa Workforce Development provides employers with all-inclusive free posters as well as free poster downloads on its website. This allows employers to easily comply with the law.
Miller's Consumer Protection Division will mail notices to more than 1,500 Iowa workplaces that have purchased MPA posters in the last few years.