Door-to-door Magazine Company Cited for Failure to Pay Its Employees, Other Wage Violations
Company Allegedly Recruited Vulnerable Workers from Out-of-State
A door-to-door magazine sales company that recruited vulnerable workers, usually from out of state, has been cited more than $150,000 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay their workers and for other wage violations, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG’s Office cited Unified Doers Management Group, LLC (Unified Doers) and its sole owner, Tristan Lettell Garrett, for failure to pay wages in timely manner, failure to pay minimum wage, failure to keep true and accurate records, independent contractor misclassification, and failure to furnish a pay stub.
“This company recruited low-income individuals from across state lines and lured them in with promises of successful jobs in direct sales, only to send them home without a paycheck for their work,” said AG Healey. “This is not acceptable and this action should send a message to companies that if they want to do business in Massachusetts, they need to abide by our laws and treat their employees fairly.”
The company, which also operates as Unity Management, is incorporated in the state of Maryland. The AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation into Unified Doers after receiving a complaint from a former employee, who alleged that he was recruited to Massachusetts and housed in substandard housing with other employees. He was allegedly trained for four days and, on the fifth day when he was too ill to work, was dropped off at a bus terminal with no bus fare and was told to go home without ever being paid any wages.
The AG’s investigation revealed that Unified Doers recruited young workers and transported them to Massachusetts communities to sell a variety of magazines door-to-door. The company offered these jobs with the guarantee that if a job did not work out, the workers would be given money to return to their homes. However, when the workers did not meet their sales quotas, the company would terminate them, leaving them not only without their earned wages, but also without a way to get home.
The AG’s investigation also revealed that the company made unlawful deductions from their workers’ pay for lodging, supplemental transportation and “miscellaneous debits.” In cases where workers’ deductions exceeded their revenue for the day, the debit would carry over until the ‘debt’ was satisfied. This illegal method resulted in workers receiving no pay, even when they sold magazines.
For work performed between June 2015 and July 2016, the AG’s Office has determined that 36 workers are owed restitution for minimum wage underpayments and 52 workers are owed restitution for deductions taken from their pay.
Further, the workers were all misclassified as independent contractors, no timekeeping records were maintained and paystubs were not given to workers, as required by law.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace can also call the office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state’s wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer and Investigator Eduina Butts, both of AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division.