WISCONSINREPORT.COM (03/27/2009) - Governor Jim Doyle has signed into law legislation that will protect traveling sales crews from abuse by employers and sets regulations that also protect consumers and homeowners. Malinda’s Act, SB4, is a response to the tragic traveling sales crew van crash on March 25, 1999 in Janesville, which killed 7 people, including 18-year-old Malinda Turvey from Verona, and severely injured 5 others.
"Today is bittersweet," Governor Doyle said. “Ten years ago, almost to the date, a tragic van crash killed seven young people and severely injured five more – all part of a traveling sales crew. What happened that night in Janesville shed light on an industry that was unregulated, and left unchecked, often abusive to its employees."
"Today, I will sign Malinda’s Act," Governor Doyle said yesterday. "Malinda was an 18-year-old young lady starting out in life when she was tragically killed. And it is people like Malinda, Amber, and Monica who we intend to protect by signing this law."
The Governor was joined at the bill signing by Phil Ellenbecker, the father of Malinda Turvey, Bonnie Lettman, the mother of Amber Lettman, a 16-year-old from Oregon who was also killed in the crash, and Monica Forbes, who was left paralyzed by the Janesville crash.
In 1999, then Attorney General Doyle prosecuted those responsible for the crash including Y.E.S., a subscription sales company based in DeWitte, Iowa. He also advocated for legislation regulating the traveling sales industry in Wisconsin.
The Act sets multiple protections for employees on traveling sales crews. In part, the Act:
- Requires at least semi-monthly payment of all wages earned;
- Requires all vehicles used to transport workers to be certified for all safety codes, including having a seat belt for all passengers;
- Prohibits an employer from abandoning employees because they are sick, injured or have been arrested;
- Prohibits an employer from taking away a worker’s money, ID, phone or any other personal property during the course of employment with the traveling sales crew; and
- Prohibits an employer from restricting communication between the worker and family or friends.
The Act also protects consumers from scams and homeowners from dangerous criminals knocking on their doors. In part, the Act:
- Requires employers who utilize traveling sales crews in Wisconsin or who recruit crewmembers in Wisconsin to obtain a certificate of registration from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) prior to entering the state. The information collected as part of the registration process will include any prior conviction record of all crewmembers;
- Requires traveling sales crew workers to carry a DWD-issued ID badge and a copy of the certificate of registration with them at all times;
- Requires the employer to request a registration stamp from a local municipality. The stamp must be placed on the certificate of registration prior to selling door-to-door in any community;
- Requires the notification of local law enforcement of planned sale activities; and
- Limits the times of day salespersons on a traveling sale crew can engage in sales activities to between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
This bill does not apply to fundraising sales by a nonprofit organization, such as the Girl Scouts, or schools and does not preempt a county, city, village, or town from enacting a local ordinance regulating the sale of goods or services to consumers from house to house, on any street, or in any other place that is open to the public.
Governor Doyle thanked Senator Jon Erpenbach and Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts for their work on the bill.