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." (Read more Aflac stories.)