By David Horan – Student Journalist
Note: the full text of the lawsuit will be included in a link at the bottom of the article. All (p.#) references the corresponding page in the lawsuit.
Rutgers Business school has allegedly used fraudulent methods to artificially improve its rating, as reported by NJ.com. Deidre White, the business school’s human resources manager, filed a lawsuit that alleges the Business School used a temp agency to hire alumni, and further alleges the alumni were paid using school endowment funds(p.3). The lawsuit points out how these improved ratings correlated with increased tuition costs.
According to White’s lawsuit, things worked like this; Recent graduates from Rutgers Business school would be “directed” to the temp firm Adecco who would then send these alumni back to Rutgers(p.3,). Going off a chart included in the lawsuit, the alumni would be paid $35 an hour($68,250 a year), with $10 back to Adecco as a kickback(p.30). At $35 an hour, one can’t help but ask how much the dining hall staff make. (The answer is $12 an hour, per Glassdoor)
Emails in the lawsuit indicate that there was knowledge of a potential “misunderstanding” regarding the arrangement with Adecco.. in an email from August 8th, 2018 from Dean of the Business School Lei Lei to Vice Chancellor & Provost Ashwani Monga, Assistant Professor James King and Assistant Dean Dean Vera (Yes, the dean is named Dean, apologies). Taken directly from pages 43-44 of the suit:
…Meanwhile, please also keep in mind that, among the 92 students
who have been placed with FT jobs, we do have few (6?) students
hired by Addeco to fill urgent temporary work needs at
Rutgers/RBS. I am not familiar with the placement data reporting
process. However, if the temporary hiring should be disclosed to the
ranking agency, please do so to avoid any misunderstanding. The
reputation of RBS and our integrity are more important than anything else.
Manish and Dee are working with Addeco on the contracts for the
temporary hiring now (e.g., pay rate, employment duration, etc.).
Please work with them to ensure the contracts are done properly.
White discovered the alleged plot while working in the Human Resources department. On March 11th, 2021, Moshe Porat of Temple University was sentenced to prison for a similar ratings scheme. In light of this, emails were exchanged within the business school discussing the case(p47-48). Due to Whites position in H.R., she was aware of the controversy. According to the lawsuit, it was these emails that prompted White to send an email confronting Dean Lei about the potential illegality of such a scheme, saying “Adecco is a complete sham, and you know it” (p.48).
White charges that her life and her job were made intentionally more difficult in an attempt to force her to resign. White claims many forms of retaliation, including; not being given adequate support staff for her role, being screamed at, berated and belittled, having her position threatened, and an increased workload(p.8). White, who has an autoimmune condition, further claims that the added stress of this environment caused her medical condition to deteriorate(p.8).
The fact that this email is from 2018 is interesting, considering the steady rise in tuition every year since, in part due to Rutgers nationwide ranking. In the event that the alleged scheme is proven true that would mean that each raise, since at least 2018, has been based on a false premise. Just today, April 27th, there will be a hearing about raising tuition costs yet again.
Below is the full text of the lawsuit: