Attorney General Cuomo Sues Magazine Subscription Company To Halt Exploitation Of Young Workers
NEW YORK, NY (August 8, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is suing Jaguar Sales LLC (“Jaguar Sales”) for illegally recruiting and deceiving young workers into selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door with little or no compensation. Jaguar Sales denies wages and commissions, while requiring salespersons to remain with the company for a minimum of 30 days just to earn a bus ticket home.
“Jaguar Sales transported young recruits to work in locations far from home, where they quickly discovered that every promise made to them was a fraud,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “After being forced to endure terrible working conditions for little compensation, these workers weren’t even given a bus ticket home. The cruel deception that is the centerpiece of the Jaguar Sales business model will not be tolerated in New York -- period. With this lawsuit we intend to put a stop to it.”
Jaguar Sales, based in Gig Harbor, Washington, recruits young salespersons from across the country to sell magazine subscriptions door-to-door, with promises of hundreds of dollars per week in wages, $500 cash bonuses, paid training, and free travel. The company busses young recruits to work at locations thousands of miles from their homes. Only after they arrive to begin working do they learn the reality of the Jaguar Sales plan:
- Salespersons are required to work six days a week for approximately 12 hours each day;
- No earnings are guaranteed; no bonuses or paid training are provided; commissions are not paid or are withheld;
- Salespersons are charged for hotels and supplies, and are fined for breaking arbitrary rules such as curfews;
- Travel fare to return home is not provided until salespersons work for at least 30 days; even after this period it may still not be provided;
- Salespersons are forced to work in neighborhoods where it is illegal to solicit door-to-door without a permit, and workers are repeatedly cited by the police in these towns;
- Salespersons have severely limited options to quit, since their wages are withheld and they work so far from their homes.
“Clarence Darrow once said ‘History repeats itself, and that's one of the things that's wrong with history.’ The deceptive practices of Jaguar Sales take us back to the days before national labor laws were instituted, when large companies abused the national work force for the sake of massive profits. Darrow worked tirelessly to establish the rights of working Americans in the early 20th century -- with this lawsuit we are sending the message that no company can deprive of their workers of those rights today,” said Attorney General Cuomo.
Jaguar Sales was not registered to do any business of any kind in New York State. In addition to the company, the Attorney General is suing the following individuals in connection with this scheme: Ann Sibiski, owner; David Sibiski, owner; Tom Sibiski, owner; Adam Carlisle, manager; Stephen Barcel, manager; Tim Brown, manager; and D.J. Warren, manager.
The suit seeks to force Jaguar Sales and its principals to make full monetary restitution to salespersons for unpaid commission wages, bonuses, or any other compensation earned in New York State since August 1, 2001, including an additional 25 percent of the amount owed for damages. It also aims to force the company to provide a full accounting of all employees who worked in New York, and all advertising they have done through any media, from August 1, 2001 to the present. Furthermore, the suit aims to prohibit Jaguar Sales from working in New York State unless it posts a $200,000 bond to be used to pay any restitution or penalties in the future, and until it properly files with the New York Secretary of State. The suit also seeks a civil penalty of $500 for each deceptive act that was committed, and $2,000 to cover the costs of the Attorney General’s investigation.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General G. Nicolas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office; Barry Kaufman, Acting Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office; Assistant Attorneys General Richard Balletta and Michael Higgins, of the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau; and Jennifer Brand, Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Labor Bureau.