Pa. education firm denies US recruitment lawsuit

By MARYCLAIRE DALE | October 5, 2011 | 4:05 PM EDT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania for-profit education company is denying U.S. Department of Justice claims it improperly pays recruiters to enroll unqualified students.

Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. runs more than 100 higher-education programs across the country offering diplomas in trades such as fashion, culinary arts and health sciences, some of them online.

A whistleblower lawsuit backed by the Department of Justice accuses the company of using high-pressure sales tactics to attract students — and $11 billion in state and federal financial aid.

Education Management officials said Wednesday the 1992 law in question prohibits them from considering only enrollment figures in setting a recruiter's pay. But the company says it also weighed five other factors, including the recruiter's professionalism and business ethics.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pittsburgh.