|Headquarters||Olean, New York, US|
Vector Marketing Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cutco Corporation. The firm originated in a joint venture between Alcoa and Case Cutlery known as Alcas Corporation. In 1947, It completed a factory in Olean, New York, and shipped the first set of Cutco Cutlery that year. In 1974, Alcoa purchased Case Cutlery's share of Alcas.
In 1982, members of Alcas management purchased the firm in a management buyout, and in 1985 they acquired Vector Marketing, originally an independent distributor of Cutco Cutlery founded in 1981. In 2009, Alcas changed its name to Cutco Corporation, with Vector its domestic sales subsidiary.
Vector Marketing is a multi-level marketing company that builds its sales force through advertising via newspapers, word-of-mouth, posted advertisements, letters and various media on the internet.
They recruit sales representatives from high schools and college campuses in the United States and Canada, sometimes through misrepresentation of affiliation with the school. Students are employed as independent contractors to sell Cutco products (mainly kitchen knives) to customers, typically their friends and family members, via one-on-one demonstrations.
The firm frequently advertises in newspapers and on fliers posted on bulletin boards at college campuses, but seldom do those advertisements explain the nature of the job.
In addition to vague job descriptions, Vector Marketing's compensation policies are often criticized. Vector Marketing previously required sales representatives to make a refundable security deposit to procure a set of knives for demonstrations. However the practices have changed and representatives are no longer required to make a security deposit. They are loaned knives as well as given some as prizes for their "Fast Start" sales achievements.
Students who work for Vector Marketing as independent contractors are not reimbursed for transportation expenses and other common business expenses while working, or for the time they spend at training sessions.
Vector was sued in 1990 by the Arizona Attorney General. Arizona and Vector agreed to a settlement that punctuated a series of state actions against Vector's Tucson manager that spanned seven years. Vector agreed not to misrepresent its compensation system as part of the settlement.
In 2003, a recruit who was successful in a lawsuit against Vector for failing to adhere to labor laws in New York, co-founded a group, Students Against Vector Exploitation (SAVE).
In 2008, Alicia Harris filed a federal class action lawsuit against Vector. Harris alleged that Vector violated California and federal labor law by failing to pay adequate wages and illegally coercing employees into patronizing the company. The case, Harris v. Vector Marketing Corporation, is pending a final settlement approval for US$13 million before Judge Edward M. Chen.
A lawsuit in 2014 alleged that a girl was violently sexually assaulted by one of her customers while working for Vector and sued the company for not providing her with adequate training to prevent the situation.
The company paid a $6.75 million preliminary settlement in 2016 for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act in California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Michigan when workers sued for going unpaid for their trainings.
In September 2017, Vector was sued in a class-action lawsuit initiated by a division manager who alleged that the company was engaging in unfair labor practices because, despite his position, he was still classified as an independent contractor, thus denying him access to overtime pay. According to the suit, division managers are the highest-ranking class of workers who are not officially classified as Vector employees.
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