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State settles lawsuit with poster company

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell said in January that he settled a lawsuit filed last June against a Lansing, Mich., company and its three owners for violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act in the course of marketing and selling employment posters to Vermont businesses.

The company is called The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc., doing business in Vermont as "The Vermont Labor Law Poster Service." Its owners are Thomas Fata, Steven Fata and Joseph Fata.

Under the settlement, the company will no longer use a "Vermont" business name or a Vermont address except under limited circumstances for processing orders, will offer full refunds to all of its Vermont customers and will pay the state $30,000.

According to a court complaint filed with the Washington Superior Court, since at least 2001, the defendants had sent large numbers of "Vermont Labor Law Poster Service" mailings to local businesses to solicit their purchase of laminated posters containing information required by federal and state law to be posted in the workplace, on such matters as equal employment opportunity, family and medical leave, minimum wage and occupational safety and health.

In 2006, the defendants mailed more than 50,000 of these solicitations to Vermont businesses. Between 2001 and January 2007, Vermont businesses placed approximately 4,000 orders for posters at an average price of about $50.

In its complaint, the attorney general alleged, in part, that the defendants' solicitations:

  • Misrepresented that failure to post would result in "criminal penalties," when in fact there were no such criminal penalties.

  • Misrepresented that their company was affiliated with the government, by using a Montpelier address, a "Vermont" company name, an official-looking insignia, made-up code numbers and official-sounding "urgency" messages.

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