A former Planned Parenthood employee won a $3 million lawsuit stemming from her firing after she alerted supervisors to potential malpractice and illegal activities at several Planned Parenthood locations in Arizona.
A jury unanimously ruled that Planned Parenthood illegally terminated Marya Rodriguez from her job as administrator of Glendale and Phoenix-area facilities.
Recent Stories in Issues
"I hope my case is a lesson to other workers that shows them that the truth will prevail. I also hope my case is a lesson to employers who abuse their power: sometimes the underdog wins and justice will be done," Rodriguez, who worked at Planned Parenthood for 17 years, said in a statement.
In August 2017, she alerted officials at the nation's largest abortion provider that one doctor was linked to a number of women who suffered complications after their abortions. Rodriguez learned that the same doctor had medical assistants sign affidavits saying his medical operations succeeded without a hitch—before the procedures even took place. In one case, Rodriguez said the doctor couldn't say for sure whether he actually completed the abortion; after an ultrasound showed that the operation was incomplete, the woman had to re-do it.
In another case, she said one manager broke the law by neglecting to inform authorities when a minor with an adult partner requested an abortion.
Rodriguez said in her lawsuit that she diligently reported to her supervisors these and other medical incidents and illegal activities that she witnessed.
Then, in late September, Planned Parenthood threatened termination on grounds that she failed to follow the organization's administrative rules and perform her daily duties. She reported the threat to a human resources director as a "form of a harassment."
Soon after, Rodriguez was fired when her supervisor claimed to find narcotics in her desk. Rodriguez claimed in her lawsuit that the supposed narcotics were in fact medication, and that staff would routinely store medicine in their desks before handing it over to the purchasing department.
After her termination, Rodriguez connected with And Then There Were None, a pro-life organization focused on engaging with abortion clinic workers. The organization helped her find legal representation when she sued Planned Parenthood.
"When Mayra came to And Then There Were None with her incredible story, I felt solidarity with her, having gone through a similar situation when I worked for Planned Parenthood," Abby Johnson, founder of the pro-life organization and a former Planned Parenthood director, said in a release. "Standing with her through the trial and rejoicing in the ultimate victory has been amazing."
Planned Parenthood, which did not respond to request for comment, told Arizona Central that Arizona's Department of Health Services and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration routinely evaluate its medical employees, and that those state and federal agencies did not find the malpractices alleged by Rodriguez.