Starkey Foundation Employee Files Whistleblower Lawsuit

Discussion in 'Research News' started by marqualler, Jan 14, 2016.

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    1. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Interesting news here from the Twin Cities, MN, as a former employee of one of the leading worldwide providers of hearing aids, Starkey Technologies, is suing the company for wrongful termination. The claim states that the Foundation has overstated the # of hearing aids provided around the world.

      My opinion--this is the danger of large, private corporations whose main purpose of existence is to make a profit for its shareholders or stakeholders, holding the keys to important health initiatives. Like, for example, hearing. We can do the math that it is not in multimillion dollar companies' best interest to research for cures for hearing loss--it is better to maintain that status quo.

      http://hearinghealthmatters.org/hea...foundation-hearing-aid-whistleblower-lawsuit/

      upload_2016-1-14_14-49-14.png

      The company responded to the allegations:

      upload_2016-1-14_14-49-47.png
       
      • Informative Informative x 4
    2. attheedgeofscience
      Uninvolved

      attheedgeofscience Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      Childhood
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Head Injury
      • Agree Agree x 3
    3. Michael2013
      Happy

      Michael2013 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2013
      Speaking as someone with significant hearing loss and hearing aids, I am not looking for hearing aid manufacturers to solve that problem. That's not their core strength and never will be. They should continue to focus on developing and improving the technology to help those who are hearing impaired. Biological researchers and other companies will focus on the cures.

      Eh. You can find a bad article about pretty much anybody on the internet these days. My experience with audiologists have always been great, and never high pressure sales situations.

      It's strange... the article makes it sound like its a big secret that audiologists are paid based on sales of devices. Honestly, how can anybody who actually visits an audiologist think otherwise? Hearing tests are free. Checkups and adjustments are free. The only time I ever paid my audiologist is when I bought hearing aids.

      -Mike
       
    4. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Well, true, nobody is asking them to, and of course they wouldn't, because like you said, solving hearing loss is not their core strength--their core strength is building hearing aids.

      It is, however, pretty troubling that the one of the largest manufacturers is being accused of skewing their donation numbers.
       
    5. Atlantis

      Atlantis Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2014
      Problem is, my friend, hearing aid manufacturers have been accused of slowing down hearing loss/tinnitus research because they would lose their businesses if cures and treatments came available. How about that?
       
    6. Michael2013
      Happy

      Michael2013 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2013
      Yeah, it will be interesting to see what comes of all of it. It is a private company and there has been ongoing family drama within this company for months now. Makes me wonder what the facts really are and how much of it is just retaliation for other things like this:

      "Lawsuit alleges Starkey execs were fired in battle with CEO's stepson.

      A lawsuit filed Friday alleges that Starkey Laboratories Inc. CEO Bill Austin fired President Jerry Ruzicka and seven other employees earlier this month in retaliation for Ruzicka’s refusal to promote Austin’s stepson.

      The lawsuit, filed by former Operations Vice President Keith Guggenberger, alleges breach of contract, defamation of character and spying. It accuses Austin of creating a hostile and vindictive work environment and is seeking damages in excess of $10.9 million."

      http://www.startribune.com/fired-executive-sues-starkey-hearing-technologies/330484531/

      Sure, I've heard those accusations. I've never seen any reliable proof of it.
       
    7. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Sure, but the lawsuit in the original post has nothing to do with the Starkey execs who were fired. We'll let the facts come out as they do, but on the surface, fired execs, an FBI investigation on those execs, and a whistleblower lawsuit don't reflect very well on the company itself, regardless of what their PR department says.
       
    8. Michael2013
      Happy

      Michael2013 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2013
      Considering one of the fired execs also just filed a whistleblowing lawsuit, I'm not sure anything can be said with certainty.

      "Starkey Hearing Technologies is now being sued by former president Jerry Ruzicka, months after the FBI raided his home. Ruzicka filed the lawsuit on Thursday, Jan. 14, naming Starkey and CEO Bill Austin in claims of wrongful termination, defamation, whistleblowing and unpaid salary."

      Yeah, it's a giant mess that's for sure! Definitely going to damage the company long term.
       
    9. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Where are you seeing this information? Would you mind posting the link to it? It must have been issued today if the new (third!) lawsuit was filed Thursday, Jan. 14 (yesterday).
       
    10. Michael2013
      Happy

      Michael2013 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2013
      Sorry, forgot to add the link! It was updated 4 hours ago though it's short with few details. It does add this little detail about a rival company:

      "Because Starkey is a private company, there was little explanation of the firings until a civil lawsuit filed last October suggested that Austin believed the executives were plotting to form a rival company."

      http://www.fox9.com/news/business/74842026-story
       
    11. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Interesting. Like I said, surely all will come out in due time. I just found what the lawsuit in the original post alleges seems to be unrelated to any of the family executive stuff. Sure, there could be some tie-ins and interoffice politics, but it is the only piece of this that seems to come out directly about practices going on at Starkey. And as I opined, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if that were the case, given how the Foundation obviously benefits the company, etc., and certainly the variety of accusations after the fact seem to lead to a "where there's smoke, there's fire" situation regarding interoffice politics. Of course every company has politics, but not every company has things of this nature happen.

      I actually came across the lawsuit in my original post after I was looking at a job posting for their CFO role. After I had recalled seeing some news about it and then reading all of this information, the job posting is not too attractive. :)
       
    12. Michael2013
      Happy

      Michael2013 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2013
      LOL... yeah, long term job security does not seem to be a selling point right now. :)
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    13. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      More about the suits and the details can be found here. (Firewall beyond 10 articles in a month, from the Star Tribune.)

      Tinnitus Talk members may recognize this room as "the quietest room in the world"--pictured below is the filer of the second whistleblower lawsuit, Jerry Ruzicka:

      1450482242_08+875229+starkey091015+1.JPG

       
    14. jss
      No Mood

      jss Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      June 2013
      In the health industry thats how big business works. Actually curing anything would diminish profit margins. Capitalizing on others sickness is where the profit is. Look what happened to Harry Hoksey, Rene Caisse or Max Gerson.

      The hearing aid industry has little or no interest in "preventing" hearing loss, much less tinnitus. We can't look to them for any help beyond very expensive white noise generators.
       
    15. Atlantis

      Atlantis Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2014
      Would it not be great if there was more competition? The cost to produce those devices must be very little, but they sell them for thousands. The profit margin is atrocious.

      I'll look up the names you mentioned, thank you!!
       

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