More details are rolling out about Zenefit’s compliance issues and decisions that were “just plain wrong” that led to the ousting of founder CEO Parker Conrad earlier this week.
Apparently, after Zenefits was accused of not being properly licensed to sell insurance in multiple states, as reported by Buzzfeed, the company did an internal investigation.
And it discovered a secret training program called “Macro” that “may have allowed” employees to cheat at a mandatory online course, letting them complete it in less than the legally required 52 hours of training, Zenefits current CEO David Sacks admitted in an an email sent to employees.
Business Insider has obtained a copy of that email from a person in the company. Here it is:
As you may have seen, the California Department of Insurance has begun an investigation of licensing issues at Zenefits that we self-reported. We welcome this announcement and intend to fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s investigation. We are committed to full remediation and ensuring complete compliance with all licensing requirements.
I want to share with you a serious issue that we self-reported to the Department. Many of our California sales representatives received access to a software tool called a “Macro” that may have allowed them to complete mandatory online pre-licensing education courses offered by a third-party test preparation provider in less than the legally required 52 total hours. The Macro functioned to keep a person logged into the course and prevented the person from being logged out for inactivity. The Macro did not advance through the required material or quizzes in the education course — the Macro only kept the person logged in. The Macro only pertained to the prelicensing education course and did not affect the broker exam taken later. Use of the Macro enabled — but did not cause — a person to spend less than the 52 hours of required time in the prelicensing course.
The company launched an internal investigation of the use of the Macro within the company. Based on the results of that ongoing investigation, we have already taken the following actions:
1) We informed the California Department of Insurance about the Macro issue. Again, we welcome the Department’s investigation and will be fully cooperating with that process.
2) We have terminated leaders who created, propagated and encouraged the use of the Macro, and we will take additional disciplinary steps as necessary to address the issue.
3) We have disabled the use of iMacros on the Zenefits network or on Zenefits-issued devices.
4) We are developing a comprehensive remediation and retraining program for all licensed employees who obtained and used the Macro in connection with their California resident broker licence. We will work with the Department of Insurance on the development of those remedial measures.
The company takes full responsibility for its actions regarding the Macro. As I said in my email to you on Day 1, the company did not have in place the proper systems, processes, and culture to ensure broker licensing compliance. While we are taking the appropriate disciplinary action against the leaders in this Macro issue, the company is focused on remediation rather than discipline with all of the other employees who used the Macro at the direction of the company. As part of our commitment to our employees, we are hiring an attorney to provide counseling and advice to individual employees on these licensing issues.
Ultimately we will will work closely with the California Insurance Commissioner, as our lead regulator, as to the appropriate consequences or sanctions.
Moving forward, any Zenefits employee who commits a licensing violation or does not promptly comply with our remediation steps will result in immediate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
We must be — and I know we can be — strictly compliant in being properly licensed, for the benefit of our customers and our regulators.
As I told you on Monday, in order for us to move forward as a company, we cannot seek to hide or downplay our broker licensing issues. We must be transparent and admit it and remediate it as soon as possible. Then we can regain our positive focus on building our business and better serving customers, employees, partners, and regulators. Together with you and our new Board, we are quickly executing on the vision we described on Day 1.
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