The employee, former director of cross-cultural brand engagement Nicole Moore, claims she and other women of color at national Planned Parenthood offices are often denigrated, fired and given fewer opportunities than their peers. their white skin. When she complained about the treatment, she said, her managers retaliated against her in a campaign so severe that she was hospitalized in the emergency room with a bout of anxiety.
The complaint contains anecdotes from many employees and contractors, alluding to racist tensions within the organization that have surfaced over the years.
Renee Bracey Sherman, a reproductive rights activist and former Planned Parenthood consultant who is mentioned in the lawsuit, said she had read the complaint and wasn’t surprised by it.
“I have experienced and been told stories similar to those stated in the complaint. It was hardly my first experience and I doubt it will be my last,” she told The Daily Beast. “I’m so tired of being silent about racism in [the reproductive rights movement] for the sake of saving Roe. We lost Roe. We now need to deal with white supremacy and the potential exploitation of our movement. “
Moore said in a statement that she hopes the lawsuit will inspire “real change at Planned Parenthood so that the organization can fully deliver on its promise to ‘Stand with Black Women’.” — starting with the people who work there.”
In a statement, Planned Parenthood general counsel Susan Manning said the organization strongly refutes Moore’s allegations and “clearly denies”[ied] her statement about discrimination. She said the group would “strongly defend against this lawsuit,” and welcomed the opportunity to share the “complete picture.”
“A top priority for Planned Parenthood of America for our dedicated staff is to build a culture of diversity throughout the organization to carry out our mission,” she said. We are about reproductive health for all. “Our employees are at the core of who we are and we work every day to ensure a safe and welcoming environment.”
According to the complaint, Moore, a black woman, was hired in January 2020 to help market the Planned Parenthood brand to communities of color. She said, almost immediately, she felt hostility from her manager, Vice President of Brands and Culture Rachel Moreno, whom the complaint describes as half Cuban. (Moreno did not return calls and emails seeking comment.)
In one case, the lawsuit alleges, Moore responded to an email asking how the organization could better interact with communities of color by offering to invite the group’s president to speak. at the Black Girls Rock convention. Twenty minutes later, it claimed, Moreno accused her in front of 10 other employees of taking on an overly active role, asking her to “listen more” and “be quiet and watch”.
Moore says that when she later asked Planned Parenthood to observe Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Moreno rejected the idea and told her to stop “creating more work for [her]myself.” When a white executive suggested a similar idea a few months later, Moreno praised it as a good idea and implemented it the following year.
Moore is not the only person accused of such discrimination. Her complaint names at least a dozen Planned Parenthood employees, former employees or contractors who she says were treated unfairly or racistly at the company’s hands, including both being given the opportunity and not being paid fairly — or at all — for their work. According to the lawsuit, a Black employee said the CEO of a Planned Parenthood affiliate asked her if she could stroke her hair at a company event in 2017 or 2018. When she spoke, she said. no, she claimed, she was punished for hurting the CEO’s feelings. The same woman said that when she complained about a colleague who described herself as “Black woman trapped in a white man’s body,” she was criticized for play “race cards”.
Various news outlets have also reported on alleged instances of racism at the organization, including August 2020 article from BuzzFeed News titled “Staff Are Calling Major Reproductive Rights Organizations Against Racism and Hypocrisy.” BuzzFeed News published a next post In October of that year on an internal audit the company conducted, the results showed that employees of color regularly engaged in racist behavior but “with no consequences or accountability.” ” when they report to human resources.
The audit also noted that Black employees “are subject to more scrutiny than their white counterparts, both in terms of how Black employees are perceived in the workplace, as well as the number of hours they work.” According to BuzzFeed, a consultant who presented the findings at an internal meeting said that there are many stories of Black employees who are expected to work “extraordinary working hours,” right in the middle of nowhere. even in personal crises.
The BuzzFeed article played a key role in Moore’s lawsuit because of the way she claimed the company responded to it. At a meeting after the article was published, Moore stated, Senior Vice President Melanie Newman did not address complaints of discrimination but instead issued a warning to anyone who leaked it. leaked audio recordings of the presentation.
“We’re going to find out who did this,” Moore claims Newman, a black woman, said. (Newman declined to comment to The Daily Beast.)
The company also runs several retreats focused on diversity and inclusion, which Moore says employees of color are “disgusting.” At one such retreat, she claimed, a white employee was praised for her bravery when she admitted that she used to make assumptions about people’s race based on their posts. When an employee of color complained of withdrawal to human resources, the lawsuit dismissed the complaints and reiterated that participation was required.
At the same time, the relationship between Moore and her superiors continued to break down. In one example, when Moore had a disagreement with Newman over email, she claims, the vice president scolded her for embarrassing her in front of white employees. Moreno, she claims, went so far as to write a review about her and force her manager to submit it in her own name, going against her manager’s wishes.
In November 2020, Moreno put Moore on a performance improvement plan, citing lack of communication and other issues that Moore claimed were “simply stereotypes about aggressive black women.” aggressive, angry and difficult to work with”. When Moore told HR that she felt the plan was a response to her complaints about racism in the organization, she said, one HR officer ignored the complaints. her and told her to “just do what is in the PIP”.
Moore says her boss keeps giving her more work than she can keep up with. In September 2021, the company issued her final warning, saying she had “created chaos/confusion” and was “not considered a team player”. (Moore says these claims were refuted by numerous witnesses and written communications.) The pressure led to Moore suffering an anxiety attack in early October 2021, according to the lawsuit. Less than two weeks later, she was fired. She said the company offered her a one-week severance.
Moore’s complaint lists at least seven other women who she claims have left the company or quit due to racial issues in the years since she was hired.
A former member of the organization, who was not involved in Moore’s lawsuit but resigned as national storyteller and is the only black member of Planned Parenthood’s affiliated panel, told The Daily Beast. Wednesday that women of color leave is a stereotype.
The activist, who was heavily involved in PP from 2017 to 2020, said she and her three Black superiors left due to the emotions of tokenism and felt too exhausted to stand on frontline pushing Planned Parenthood’s story that it’s helping people of color who aren’t fair get redress, fair treatment, or adequate rest between events. At an event in Washington, DC in April 2018, the former board member said her mentor passed out from exhaustion and had to go to the hospital. She quickly learned that it was “a toxic workplace for Negroes.”
“Black women leaders at the national level are the ones who put on the armor to go to war and make people feel what it is like to need access to abortion care,” she said. how. “They were not cared for or provided with resources. They are all frustrated, exhausted and feeling taken advantage of.”
Several activists told The Daily Beast, Planned Parenthood’s controversies around the treatment of employees of color are an open secret within the reproductive justice movement. As a well-known member of a reproductive justice organization put it: “They’ve been messed up for so long, who can keep up? I’m glad she’s suing.”