Rutgers University’s Business School inflated its rankings by creating fake jobs for its graduates, according to an accusation leveled in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed on Friday.
Deidre White, the business school’s human-resources manager, claims in her lawsuit that the university created bogus jobs to show that the school’s graduates had no trouble finding employment. But after she exposed the purported scheme and refused to comply with it, White asserts, she faced illegal harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
The lawsuit charges that administrators at the business school used a temp agency called Adecco Employment Services Inc. to hire graduating MBA students who had yet to land a job and place them in fictitious positions at the university. This created a false impression that “postgraduation employment is virtually guaranteed,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that the business school used more than $400,000 from the university’s endowment to fund the positions and pay Adecco for fabricating the scheme.
“This was a blatant effort to give the impression of a higher overall full-time employability rating with third-parties and to deceptively bolster Defendant Rutgers’s ‘ranking’ with crucial media outlets, such as U.S. News & World Report,” the lawsuit says.
Rutgers did not immediately respond to The Chronicle’s request for comment Friday afternoon, but the university told NJ.com it denies the claims of fraudulence.
“We take seriously our obligation to accurately report data and other information to ranking and reporting agencies,” the university said in a statement to the news website. “The Rutgers Business School strictly follows the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance guidelines in submitting MBA statistics and similarly follows the appropriate guidelines in submitting undergraduate statistics.”
According to the university’s website, the business school is ranked among the top 10 best programs for MBA employment outcomes and is considered one of the best business schools in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report. But White’s lawsuit claims that the business school got there by intentionally reporting false data and making misleading claims in marketing materials. The school falsely asserted that unemployed students were employed in full-time MBA-level jobs with a third-party company in the hopes of attracting more students, tuition dollars, and high rankings, the suit says.
According to the lawsuit, White, 54, says that she became aware of and blew the whistle on the scheme in March, but that the university did nothing to investigate it. White claims that she was ignored and ostracized by her department, and that her refusal to participate in the purported fraud subjected her to retaliation from her supervisors. Conditions were so bad that her health “physically deteriorated,” the lawsuit says.