A lot of people are looking for jobs these days. And they're doing more than looking through classified ads in the paper and searching online. Rather, they're paying employment agencies to help them in the job search. Recently, the Minnesota attorney general sued one these agencies, claiming that it violated consumer fraud and deceptive trade practice laws. The lawsuit should serve as a warning that you need to be careful when choosing to an employment agency.
According to Lori Swanson, the Minnesota Attorney General, the Arthur Group, Inc. (the "Group"), and its owner and chief executive officer, Barry Trimble, charged unemployed people in Minnesota up to $4,500 for assistance in finding a job and then did little or nothing at all to actually help them.
The lawsuit claims that the Group and Trimble did many things that were fraudulent and deceptive, such as:
- Luring job seekers to come to its office for a job "interview" by posting an online ad for a lucrative job, and when someone showed up for the interview, he'd be told that the position had been filled and was no longer available
- Not giving some job seekers a single job interview or employment lead, even after they had paid for the Group's services
- Misrepresenting the Group's success rate for placing its client's in jobs and how quickly the Group could find someone a job
- Misleading some job seekers into believing that the employers the Group found for them would pay back the fees the job seekers had paid to the Group
- Promising some job seekers exclusive access to hundreds of employers and jobs that weren't publicly advertised, but failing to produce any actual interviews or job leads
- Not providing the resume-writing services that some job seekers had paid for
The lawsuit wants the Group and Trimble to give back the money taken from the job seekers (called restitution), an injunction barring the Group and Trimble from doing the same thing in the future, and other money damages.
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices
Generally, consumer fraud and deceptive business practices laws protect the public from being tricked or duped by businesses. For example, these laws make it illegal for a business to misrepresent or lie about its ability to do something or the quality of its goods or services. In a nutshell, a business can't take your money without delivering the goods or services that it claimed to have when you bought it.
That's what the Minnesota attorney general claims the Arthur Group and Trimble did. They bilked thousands of dollars from job seekers without delivering on their promise to help them find jobs.