Did Globe University fire Dean Heidi Weber for poor performance or because she blew the whistle on its deceptive marketing practices? Heidi Weber sued Globe, a for-profit institution (profiled here by Minnesota Public Radio) in 2011, claiming that Globe fired her in retaliation for raising questions about compliance with accreditation standards in its medical assistant program. She alleged that they paid commissions to recruiters, inflated job statistics and failed to provide training opportunities promised to students.
This week, a Minnesota jury awarded the former dean of the medical assistant program almost $400,000 for lost wages and emotional distress. Globe alleges that they fired her for performance, but jurors seemed swayed by evidence of malfeasance, such as the school’s failure to disclose that credits were not as transferable as they had represented and to tell students that promised externships were not available. They also seemed disturbed by the fact that the school had knowingly enrolled students with felony records, even though those students would not be able to get jobs in a field that requires background checks. Like the verdict last month against Vaderott, this verdict seems to tap into deep public disgust with the for-profit industry, fueled at least in part by high default rates on student loans at these schools.