The class action lawsuit filed against the defunct Trump U alleges, among other ignominious charges, “financial elder abuse.” Controversy surrounding the for-profit “university” enterprise came to a head after the presiding judge ruled for the release of sensitive documents to the public. In them, former employees described ruthless sales tactics the university would use to convince vulnerable sections of the population to sign up for expensive classes with, allegedly, no real educational value. The company claimed to teach students Trump’s strategies for success, and instructors were purportedly “hand-picked” by Trump to teach the students the key to successful investing.
However, at deposition Donald Trump admitted he failed to pick out key faculty members, and never personally appeared at any of the educational seminars the university held. Students also claim the institution inflated their chances of success after completing a program from Trump U, as few managed to attain even a modicum of success after “graduation”.
One of the most important documents released is the Trump University Playbook, an instruction manual distributed to the instructors of the university. Rather than detailed real estate and investing advice, the playbook contains a multitude of dodgy sales tactics reminiscent of time share enterprises. Meant to inspire students into buying more expensive instruction packages, such tactics included encouraging students to go into debt if they could not afford the programs the instructions were pushing.
In a released testimonial, an instructor remembers talking a couple out of buying a $35,000 program because he felt it would destabilize their financial status. The husband was on disability, and they could not realistically afford the program without severe financial consequences. The instructor was reprimanded by a supervisor for the move however, and watched a different instructor proceed to sell the couple the program.
Donald Trump denies any wrongdoing and proclaimed on Twitter that he would re-open Trump U after he won the lawsuits. He claims that the lessons were legitimate and the students are only seeking to make money from false accusations. He points to the near universally high ratings the university garnered from students as evidence for the legitimacy of his institution. Released testimonial from students and faculty calls the accuracy of such ratings into question however. They allege that instructors would stay in the room and pressure the students into giving good ratings, and that salaries for the professors would be directly tied to how many 5 star ratings their students would give them.
This lawsuit is merely one in a long line of class actions against for profit universities that preyed on the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals in society. They were accused of the same deceptive sales tactics that students allege Trump U engaged in, as they inflated the students chances of success after graduation, and placed individuals who can least afford it heavily in debt with no real recourse. Kaplan Career Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute, ITT Technical Institute, and Devry University have all come under fire for such practices.
Contact Anderson and Wanca at (847) 368 1500 if you feel that your university mischaracterized the job opportunities and salary increase that would come after program completion.