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Lawsuit Accuses Custodial Company of Exploiting Immigrant Workers

April 13, 2021

A custodial services company that is the focus of lawsuit for allegedly exploiting immigrant workers could face civil penalties.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington state filed a consumer protection lawsuit last week in King County Superior Court against National Maintenance Contractors for taking advantage of immigrants with limited English proficiency and falsely promising them the independence of business ownership. The company had allegedly locked 250 Washington franchisees into contracts which left them earning less than minimum wage and paying exorbitant fees with limited ability to advocate for themselves.

“These hardworking immigrants thought they were signing up for the American Dream,” said Ferguson said in a news release. “Instead, National Maintenance Contractors deceived them into signing contracts that prevented them from ever realizing that dream. As the people’s law firm, it’s our job to ensure fair treatment for hardworking Washingtonians who clean our businesses and make our economy function.”

In several cases, National Maintenance underbid its contracts, which created unrealistic demands on franchisees. For example, in one bid, National Maintenance estimated it would take three minutes to clean a kitchen, including mopping the floor and cleaning and disinfecting all counters, the outside of all cabinets, the outside of appliances, the sink and fixtures, and tables. Franchisees had no choice but to complete the tasks in the contract for the bid dollar amount, no matter how long the work actually took.

At least one of the franchisee custodians expressed concern to National Maintenance that taking an account would lead to earning below minimum wage, but they decided to proceed because they felt they did not have much choice and needed the work.   

National Maintenance franchisees who believe they are being treated unfairly should file a complaint with the attorney general’s office. Forms are available in English, Spanish and Russian.

 

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