This week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging acts of deceptive advertising against DeVry Education Group Inc., the operator of DeVry University (“DeVry”).
What is the nature of the FTC’s allegations?
In the FTC’s Complaint, the agency charges DeVry with various forms of deceptive advertising in violation of the FTC Act including:
- Falsely claiming that 90% of graduates obtain jobs in their field of study within 6 months of graduation;
- Falsely claiming that its graduates earn significantly more than graduates of other schools, despite having reason to question the reliability of information and conclusions contained in a survey that DeVry used as the basis for its income superiority claims;
- Deceptively calculating employment figures to include graduates who were working at jobs that they held prior to enrollment; and
- Excluding from its calculation of employment figures those persons who in fact were actively seeking employment by deceptively categorizing them as inactive graduates.
DeVry has stated that it intends to vigorously contest the FTC’s action, which is seeking redress to consumers and a court-order prohibiting DeVry from any further violations of the FTC Act.
Protect Yourself from Deceptive Advertising-Related FTC Scrutiny
We continue to report on the FTC’s aggressive pursuit of companies that engage in deceptive advertising. This reality is highlighted by the steady stream of FTC-related complaints, judgments and settlements on which we consistently blog. Accordingly, it is critical for marketers to work closely with experienced counsel to ensure that marketing campaigns which tout the benefits of products/services comply with applicable state and federal advertising laws, as well as general industry standards.