Employees at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York (PPGNY) demanded the removal of the affiliate's CEO, charging that she created a "culture of fear and intimidation" that harms nonwhite employees.
PPGNY employees released an open letter on Thursday outlining their grievances with CEO Laura McQuade. "We are expressing our profound lack of confidence in Laura McQuade, our Chief Officers, and our Board of Directors," the letter stated. "In her two-and-a-half year tenure, McQuade has created a culture of fear and intimidation; we have witnessed her cull dissenters and surround herself with enablers. Through abusive behavior and financial malfeasance, we have watched her fundamentally threaten the fiscal and operational viability of Planned Parenthood’s largest affiliate and its 900 employees."
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The letter alleged that McQuade publicly shamed employees in staff meetings, resulting in an outside law firm investigating her practices. The investigation "led to no positive organizational change."
Employees also said years of complaints about pay inequities and a lack of upward mobility for nonwhite employees went unaddressed. The letter stated that no positive change resulted from three separate assessments of the organization's problems promoting minority employees.
"It is not possible to do justice to the scope and gravity of this issue here," the letter stated.
Hundreds of employees and supporters, many anonymous, signed the letter. The PPGNY employees' list of demands included the removal of McQuade as CEO, salary cuts for the highest-paid employees, and an investigation into a list of alleged abuses.
The letter linked to another open letter written by the organization's minority employees, who expanded on the accusations of racism against nonwhite employees.
"PPGNY, under the leadership of CEO Laura McQuade, has effectively gaslit and silenced their marginalized staff thus creating a toxic work environment," the second letter stated. The employees accused leadership of elevating nonwhite employees who "actively participate in harming Black staff and other staff members of color below them."
PPGNY and Planned Parenthood Federation of America did not respond to requests for comment on the letters or on McQuade's job status.
The internal uprising comes amid organizational turmoil for the abortion provider. The group came under fire for accepting loans from the Small Business Administration, which lawmakers said were obtained fraudulently.
The affiliate also announced it would lay off and furlough dozens of employees in April, citing strains brought on by the coronavirus crisis.