By Sam Becker
A former Planned Parenthood official is suing the organization, saying that she was fired for making complaints about workplace discrimination related to her race, according to a 51-page brief filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday.
Nicole Moore, who is Black, served as Planned Parenthood’s director of multicultural brand engagement at the organization’s Manhattan headquarters for nearly two years, starting in January 2020. She claims that she was fired after making multiple complaints regarding racism and unequal treatment of her Black coworkers, the lawsuit says.
“Moore observed that Black employees in her department were assigned more work but given fewer opportunities to lead and that Black-centered campaigns were deprioritized and under-resourced,” the filing reads. When Moore brought her observations up to managers, Planned Parenthood executives “proceeded to thwart Moore’s ideas, sabotage her projects, and subject her to unfounded disciplinary measures that were clearly intended to silence her complaints.”
Finally, the suit alleges that she was “summarily fired” after bringing her concerns about retaliation to Planned Parenthood’s HR department.
“Today, I’m speaking out not only to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for the unjust way it treated me and dozens of other Black employees, but to shed light on the fact that racism at Planned Parenthood directly impacts the access and quality of reproductive health care that Black women receive around the country,” Moore said, via a statement provided by the law firm representing her case. “If staffers are dealing with anti-Blackness, retaliation, and disregard in the workplace, how can we then expect this organization to possibly deliver compassionate care to Black women who are seeking their services?”
Reached for comment by Fast Company, Planned Parenthood denied the allegations. “Our staff is at the core of who we are and we work everyday to ensure a safe and welcoming environment,” said Susan Manning, interim general counsel of Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. “We strongly dispute the plaintiff’s allegations against the organization and categorically deny her claims of discrimination. Planned Parenthood will vigorously defend against this suit, and welcomes the opportunity to share the complete picture.”
Notably, Planned Parenthood has come under fire in recent years for issues related to racial discrimination. In the fall of 2020, BuzzFeed News published the results of an internal audit at the organization’s national headquarters, which found that Black workers regularly experienced racism from colleagues and that their subsequent complaints to human resources didn’t result in any satisfactory response.
Moore’s lawsuit comes at a particularly contentious time for Planned Parenthood, as it grapples with numerous, unrelated legal fights in states across the country after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. But Susan Crumiller, the founding attorney at Crumiller P.C.—which is representing Moore—says the suit should jolt the prominent reproductive health organization into reckoning with some of its own internal issues.
“For years, many Black employees have spoken out privately about racism at Planned Parenthood to no avail,” Crumiller said in a statement. “We are proud of Nicole for her courage in coming forward publicly and honored to help her hold the organization accountable. This action should be a wake-up call to Planned Parenthood that it urgently needs to repair its culture if it wants to save abortion rights.”
This post has been updated with Planned Parenthood’s statement.