5 On Your Side

State Labor Department Warns Businesses Not To Pay For Free Posters

Posted December 8, 2003

— Rules and regulations are all part of being in business. There can be so much to keep track of that unsuspecting business owners may pay for things they can get for free.

State Department of Labor

posters explain minimum wage requirements, workers' compensations and other workers' rights. Businesses are required to post them, but they are not required to buy the posters.

"I always was really nervous when I got these because I thought I was doing something wrong," business owner Peggy Simpson said.

Simpson received a notice that refers to federal government requirements to display workplace posters.

The notices arrive in official-looking manila envelopes and threaten criminal penalties and assessments if posting requirements are not followed. The notices state businesses can avoid state fines and penalties by paying $59.50 for a set of posters.

Simpson was about to pay then found out she did not have to.

"I think their marketing tactic is to scare people. That's what they bank on and that's how they end up buying them," she said.

The posters are available for free from the North Carolina Department of Labor.

"This one says if you don't meet the current poster requirements, you risk a fine of $17,000," said North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry of one solicitation.

Berry said businesses call her office all the time questioning the solicitations. While she does not like the offers, she said she cannot do anything to stop them.

"It's a shame that businesses are subjected to this, but it's perfectly legal for this to be sent off," she said.

Berry warns business owners not to buy the posters.

"It's very important to have the poster, but don't be mislead by this," she said.

Perhaps, Simpson has the best advice. She said, " I still continue to get these things. I just throw them in the trash can."

Berry said it would be rare for the department to impose a fine if a business did not have a poster. Inspectors carry them with them and would simply post one.

Free posters are available at by calling (800) NCLABOR or (800) 625-2267.

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