Aflac Workers Cry Foul on Company's Practices

They allege widespread, companywide abuse and fraud—including charging workers for stuffed ducks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2018 3:48 PM CST
Aflac Workers Cry Foul on Company's Practices
The Aflac Duck participates in a walk to raise money for childhood cancer on the National Mall on Sept. 17, 2017, in Washington.   (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Aflac)

It has boasted about being called one of the world's most ethical companies, but based on what nine ex-Aflac employees are saying, the insurance company known for its annoying-sounding duck (once voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) may be anything but. The Intercept talked to the former workers, and current ones, and reviewed three lawsuits so far kept under wraps, and it unearthed allegations of rampant, companywide fraud and worker exploitation—what the site says "[pulls] together virtually every major corporate scandal of the past two decades into the behavior of a single company." Although state and federal regulators have already started poking around into these rumblings, Aflac's top honchos and board of directors have kept vague about these claims, telling shareholders via SEC filings not to fret about complaints in the works, as they aren't expected to affect the company's financials.

Among the accusations are claims that Aflac misclassified workers as independent contractors, pushed its policies with Amway-type pyramid schemes, punished whistleblowers, promised salaries that proved attainable to only a tiny percentage of workers, and fudged earnings statements by playing around with how sales were dated. The Intercept notes this is the first in a series of exposes on the company, this one focusing on the employees' claims of how people who work there are treated. A revelation from one current worker: "I got charged for having a desk, $300-$600 a month. They even charged for the ducks"—meaning he had to pay himself for the stuffed Aflac ducks handed out to clients. Check out more of the Intercept's in-depth look here, and why at least one ex-employee called working there "the worst time of his life." (More Aflac stories.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.