Rutgers Business School accused of trying to boost ranking by padding job numbers

Two lawsuits from the same New Jersey law firm claim the school lied about the job placement success of its MBA program to gain prestige.

Rutgers University (Marcus Biddle for WHYY)

Rutgers University (Marcus Biddle for WHYY)

Two lawsuits have been filed against Rutgers Business School, accusing it of padding numbers to gain a better reputation among potential students. One of the suits alleges that supervisors retaliated against an employee who tried to stop the ruse and subterfuge.

Both lawsuits came from the same law firm, McOmber McOmber & Luber.

On April 8, the firm filed a whistleblower suit against the school in Superior Court on behalf of Deidre White, the school’s current human resources manager, claiming that Rutgers hired unemployed students in its MBA program through Adecco Employment Services, a temp agency. The suit described the jobs as “sham positions.” In turn, the school would give a “kickback” to Adecco and the hiring data would be reported.

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The suit alleges that the alleged scheme was aimed at boosting the school’s ranking with crucial media outlets like U.S. News and World Report and Financial Times.

Rutgers Business School reports how soon its graduates obtain a job before and after they graduate. That data is used by the organizations to gauge the success of its program.

For her trouble in trying to stop the alleged scheme from taking place, the suit claims that White’s supervisors retaliated, by creating a hostile work environment. It outlines several examples such as denying her support staff, increasing her workload including assigning her to a major project, and denying her a promotion and a raise.

The suit further alleges that Melissa Rivera, one of the defendants, began to post White’s position as available. The suit also claims that retaliation was taken when White took medical leave to address a medical condition. She suffers from Graves’ Disease.

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White’s suit also outlines the scheme implemented to improve the school’s ranking, which is also outlined in a federal class action suit filed on Tuesday.

That filing was brought by the firm on behalf of Lorenzo Budet, claiming their client would have picked a different program and not “agreed to pay [the business school’s] premium” tuition had Rutgers “not received these high rankings.” Budet began his studies in September 2019 in the school’s Supply Chain Management MBA program.

Both the state and federal lawsuits claim “by bolstering its employment data,” Rutgers Business School “created an impression that post-graduation employment is virtually guaranteed.”

The firm, in a statement, said that the school has misled MBA and other graduate students since 2018 “with misleading data.”

“This not only resulted in a premium paid for their own tuition, but also has contributed to trillions in student loan debt on a national scale,” it said. “We have exposed this unlawful conduct and we seek all relief available under the law for our clients and the proposed Class members.”

Rutgers said it could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuits, per university policy. However, it said in a statement that the school takes seriously its obligation to accurately report data and other information to ranking and reporting agencies “without equivocation.”

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