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Planned Parenthood’s Ex-Director of Multicultural Brand Engagement Files Race Discrimination and Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

default author image10.19.2022

NEW YORK, NY – Crumiller is proud to represent Nicole Moore, a Black woman and abortion rights advocate who was Planned Parenthood’s Director of Multicultural Brand Engagement at its Manhattan headquarters from January 2020 to November 2021. Today, Crumiller filed a federal lawsuit accusing Planned Parenthood of unlawfully firing her in retaliation for her multiple complaints about the organization’s inequitable treatment of Black women.

In a 51-page complaint, Moore accuses Planned Parenthood of a broad pattern of anti-Black racism, including repeated attempts by her supervisors to downplay her complaints and initiate baseless disciplinary measures in an effort to silence her.

By way of example, as alleged in the complaint:

  • Moore quickly observed that a supervisor in her reporting line was inexplicably hostile toward her and learned that this supervisor’s animus toward Black women was well known throughout the organization.
  • Black holiday observance campaigns, such as Black History Month and Juneteenth, were consistently deprioritized and under-resourced compared to others.
  • On one occasion, Moore’s supervisor dramatically cut her multicultural outreach budget after it was already approved, giving Moore less than 24 hours to decide where to make the cuts. When this supervisor’s boss confronted her about the last-minute change, she lied and suggested Moore made up the exchange to undermine her leadership.
  • Moore’s idea to have Planned Parenthood observe AAPI Heritage Month was flatly rejected, but when a white director expressed the same idea, it was implemented.
  • In June 2020, Planned Parenthood hired an organization to conduct a racial audit at the national office. Dozens of Black employees complained of racism, overt hostility, lack of upward mobility, and overwork, compared with their white peers. When the survey results were leaked to Buzzfeed News in October 2020, Planned Parenthood leadership appeared more concerned about the identity of the leaker rather than the results themselves. One senior leader expressed concern about backlash among “white staffers” in response to the leak.
  • In September 2020, Moore complained about clear racial disparities in terms of who was being asked to lead projects within her department. Rather than listen to her concerns and act to address them, Moore’s supervisors berated her for accusing them of racism.
  • In November 2020, Moore was placed on an unwarranted Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”). Her complaints about workplace racism were specifically cited as reasons why she was placed on the PIP.
  • Employees were forced to attend various meetings and “retreats” on race, where employees of color were often tokenized and made uncomfortable. Moore attended one “retreat” where employees were shown a Venn diagram of racial identities and asked to point to where they identified on the diagram.
  • Planned Parenthood regularly hired all-white film crews for video shoots. When several employees of color complained, they were asked to draft a “diversity and inclusion rider.” Planned Parenthood ignored the rider and continued to hire white film crews.
  • Planned Parenthood routinely hired executives’ white friends and/or family members as consultants, often paying them $10,000-$15,000 per month, while Black consultants were paid much less, if anything at all.
  • In August 2021, when the calendar for 2022 observances was distributed, Moore was stunned to learn that she had been assigned a whopping 11 observances—including all Black observances—while one white director was assigned none.
  • When Moore complained once again about the inequitable distribution of work and her feelings of being tokenized, she was placed on another PIP that falsely accused her of causing “chaos/confusion,” not being seen as a “team player,” and taking credit for others’ work, among other falsities.

The case is Nicole Moore v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. et al, No. 1:22-cv-08899 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Statement from Founding Attorney Susan Crumiller:

“For years, many Black employees have spoken out privately about racism at Planned Parenthood to no avail. 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.”

Statement from Nicole Moore

“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. 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? I hope that my story inspires real change at Planned Parenthood so that the organization can fully live up to its promise to ‘Stand With Black Women’ – starting with those who work there.

“When I made the difficult decision to file a lawsuit, I was worried about backlash and that anti-abortion zealots might try to capitalize on my story to push their own harmful agenda. The fact is that I cared deeply about abortion access before I worked at Planned Parenthood and I’m still fighting to advance reproductive justice, especially in Black and brown communities. Particularly since the fall of Roe, we cannot seriously expect to win the battle for our rights to control our sexuality, our gender, our work, and our reproduction if Planned Parenthood continues to lean into white supremacy and anti-Blackness in the workplace.”

Crumiller is a feminist litigation firm that fights discrimination and sexual abuse in the workplace, healthcare and beyond.