Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Aug 06 2018

The Ferguson File - July 2018

Headshot of Attorney General Bob FergusonDear Friends,

This past month, my office counted multiple victories for the people of Washington, and across the country. Thanks to our work, fast-food workers have greater opportunities for mobility and pay, businesses can no longer discriminate against Facebook users, and it is once again unlawful to share downloadable “ghost” guns on the internet.

As part of my Military and Veterans Initiative, I also filed lawsuits against charities that misled Washington consumers about where their donations went.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

Bob Ferguson signature

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General


Bob Ferguson talks to media on courthouse steps

Keeping untraceable firearms out of the hands of criminals

In 2015, Defense Distributed, an organization dedicated to global distribution of open-source, downloadable 3D-printed guns, sued the federal government when the Obama Administration forced the removal of instruction manuals for 3D-printed “ghost” guns from the internet. After successfully defending their case to two federal courts, the Trump Administration abruptly changed its position and settled the case.

The settlement allowed the downloadable guns for unlimited public distribution. Allowing criminals, domestic abusers and terrorists easy access to dangerous, untraceable and undetectable weapons doesn’t make any sense. In response, I led a multistate lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s action to ensure that the federal government does not allow the posting and distribution of the printable files for these weapons online. I argued the action violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Tenth Amendment, and asked the court for a nationwide temporary restraining order.

On July 31, Judge Robert Lasnik of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a nationwide temporary restraining order in our case.  I am thankful and relieved Judge Lasnik put a nationwide stop to the Trump Administration’s dangerous decision. I hope the President does the right thing and directs his administration to change course.

KING-5 News 
Seattle judge blocks release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns

KIRO-7
Judge blocks release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns

SeattlePI
Seattle judge blocks release of blueprints for 'computer generated' 3D printed guns

The Seattle Times 
Federal judge in Seattle blocks release of blueprints for 3D-printed guns

Q13 Fox 
Washington, 7 other states file suit to block 3D printing of firearms


Depiction of generic fast-food workers

Successfully protecting a competitive workforce

Last fall, the New York Times wrote an article about little-known clauses in fast-food franchise contracts that prevent workers from moving among locations within the same brand. According to economists, these “no-poach” clauses decrease competition, reduce opportunities for low-wage workers and stagnate wages. My office began investigating fast-food franchises in Washington earlier this year.

This past month, I was excited to announce that seven large, corporate fast-food chains agreed to end these restrictions on workers nationwide. Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Cinnabon, McDonald's and Jimmy John’s must immediately stop enforcing no-poach provisions, and must remove no-poach language from their franchise contracts nationwide.

Businesses must compete for workers just like they compete for customers. You cannot manipulate the market to keep wages low. I will continue to investigate, and I expect that we will reach a resolution with other fast-food corporations. If not, I am prepared to file a lawsuit.

 

KIRO-7
AG Ferguson moves to open job opportunities for fast food workers

The Stranger 
Seven Fast Food Restaurants Agree to Stop Practice That Screws Workers

The New York Times 
7 Fast-Food Chains to End ‘No Poach’ Deals That Lock Down Low-Wage Workers


Military and Veterans Initiative logo

Cracking down on deceptive veterans’ charity scams

As part of a nationwide sweep in July, I cracked down on two charities that claimed to benefit veterans. These organizations used the promise of improving veterans’ lives to mislead donors, but in fact, little to none of the money raised did.

I filed a lawsuit against Spanaway-based Fallen Hero Bracelets and its director, Michael Friedmann. Though Friedmann’s nonprofit claimed to give money to 40 organizations that benefit veterans, it has provided no funds to any such organization. In addition to not providing any money to charity, Friedmann has been known to sue customers who complain about slow delivery. More than 10 Washington consumers complained to my office, claiming that they faced delivery delays, an inability to contact Friedmann and harassment as a result of them complaining or returning items. I filed a lawsuit against Fallen Hero Bracelets asking the court to require the organization to end its deceptive conduct, provide restitution to affected consumers, pay penalties up to $2,000 per violation and pay attorney costs and fees.  

I also filed a lawsuit against Florida-based Healing Heroes Network. Almost 8,000 Washingtonians donated more than $100,000 to Healing Heroes Network from 2015 to 2017. However, in 2016 and 2017, the organization spent less than 1 percent of its $2.5 million in revenues on direct services to veterans. The organization dissolved after learning about our investigation, but the executive director soon formed a new, similar business under a name affiliated with Healing Heroes Network – Hero Giveaways, LLC. Though it claimed to benefit veterans, the company is a for-profit that has given nothing to wounded veterans or any other charity. Among other penalties and fees, my lawsuit asks the court to require the organization to end its deceptive conduct and provide restitution to affected consumers or designate the money for legitimate veterans’ charities.

These organizations’ illegal actions are not only disrespectful to donors, but also to the veterans they claim to help. I will continue to use my office to stop these bad actors in their tracks, protecting you and your hard-earned money. If you donated to one of these charities, or if you have a complaint about another charity, please contact my office.

KREM 
Washington Attorney General files lawsuit against 'Fallen Hero Bracelets'

KING-5 News 
Washington sues 'Fallen Hero Bracelets' for deceptive practices

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin 
When it comes to donating, use your heart and your head


Exclusion options on Facebook's ad platform

Removing options to discriminate on Facebook’s ad platform

Nonprofit ProPublica announced in 2016 that it had found that Facebook’s ad platform allowed businesses to discriminate against users based on race. I found that alarming, and my office launched an investigation. My investigators successfully placed 20 discriminatory ads on Facebook’s platform, all excluding one or more ethnic minorities.

I am excited to say that Facebook signed a legally binding agreement with my office that it will no longer provide advertisers with options to exclude users based on race, creed, color, national origin, veteran or military status, sexual orientation and disability status. In addition to advertisements in housing, employment or credit, the options will no longer appear for ads for insurance or public accommodations. The changes will be nationwide. This is well beyond what Facebook has previously announced, and for the first time, legally binding and permanent.  

Businesses cannot be allowed to discriminate against people because of where they come from, what religion they practice or who they love. It’s wrong, illegal and unfair. I will continue to enforce our state’s anti-discrimination laws.

KUOW 
Facebook to stop ad discrimination in Washington state

The Seattle Times
Facebook must stop advertisers from excluding people from viewing ads for housing, jobs and more

KOMO News
Facebook ends discriminatory ads in agreement with AG

ProPublica
Facebook Promises to Bar Advertisers From Targeting Ads by Race or Ethnicity. Again.


 

 
 

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