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Legal filings -- including a lawsuit from a current employee and a whistle-blower case from former employees -- allege serious mismanagement at TIAA.

The association manages retirement plans and investments, and many of its clients are educators and researchers. The complaints, reported by The New York Times over the weekend, allege that the company pushed its clients into ill-suited plans that generated higher fees -- without delivering higher performance. Additionally, the Times interviewed 10 current employees who spoke of legally and ethically dubious sales practices.

Chad Peterson, a TIAA spokesman, told the Times that the company focuses exclusively on meeting its clients’ long-term financial needs and operates in "a highly transparent and ethical way."

“The outcomes we deliver for our clients speak volumes -- we’ve paid more than the guaranteed payouts to our fixed annuity holders every year for more than half a century," Peterson said in an email to Inside Higher Ed. "In fact, since our founding, our retired participants have never missed a payout from us -- through depressions, wars, and natural disasters.”