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Whistle-blower claim points to fraud at for-profit colleges

Whenever an employer in Wisconsin is engaged in fraud or another illegal activity, an employee who knows of these activities can report the actions to authorities. Filing such a report can put employees in an awkward position, as the employer might then retaliate by firing them. This, however, is illegal and the employee can then file a retaliation lawsuit.

Recently, a man filed a whistle-blower complaint against the country's second-largest operator of for-profit colleges, accusing the company of deceiving prospective students with inflated job placement statistics. The man left his job as an admissions supervisor shortly after filing the complaint, and he reportedly did so on good terms. Many whistle-blowers, unfortunately, are unable to do this and they are either subjected to a hostile work environment or fired after filing a complaint.

In this case, the former admissions supervisor said the company manipulated job placement rates. It did so by listing graduates, who obtained jobs unrelated to their degrees, as having obtained jobs that were related to their degrees in its job placement statistics.

For example, one student who graduated from one of the college's business management programs took a job at Walmart while she was still in school, making $16,000 a year. After graduation, the college counted the customer service job as being related to her degree--reportedly despite the fact she got the job before finishing the program, and was enticed to enroll in the school with promises  of gaining a $40,000 earning potential.

A college education is, of course, a major investment. The Walmart worker above took on about $24,000 in debt to earn a business management degree, which she says turned out to be useless.

When people do decide to invest in education, often using loans, it is important that they are able to make a well-informed decision. This whistle-blower lawsuit accused the college operator of taking this opportunity away from prospective students by misleading them with false advertising.

The for-profit college operator has denied the claims.

Source: ABC News, "Whistle-blower: For-Profit College Operator Allegedly Inflates Job Placement Rates," Mark Greenblatt, Nov. 26, 2012

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