Planned Parenthood affiliate org accused of racism by ex-employee in New York

Samuel Ricarlos Mitchell Jr. was allegedly subjected to a "disproportionate number of background checks" and racist remarks while PPGNY chief operating officer.

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A Black former Planned Parenthood employee has launched a lawsuit, alleging that its New York branch engaged in racial and religious discrimination and continues to uphold the founder’s “white supremacist” ideologies.

Samuel Ricarlos Mitchell Jr., an ordained pastor and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s former chief operating officer, claims the organization subjected him to hostile work conditions and discrimination, including a “disproportionate number of background checks.” According to Live Action News, he also alleged retaliation for complaining about the affiliate’s actions and misdeeds.

“This lawsuit is meant to shine a light on the discriminatory and retaliatory employment practices that permeate the organization,” it reads, according to Live Action, “and bring justice to Mr. Mitchell for the unrelenting discriminatory practices he has and continues to endure.”

Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, whose signage is seen in Manhattan, is being accused of bias. Samuel Ricarlos Mitchell Jr., former chief operating officer, filed a lawsuit claiming the organization subjected him to hostile work conditions and engaged in racial and religious discrimination. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

According to the complaint filed in a New York district court, Mitchell claimed Planned Parenthood held him to a different standard than other employees and denied him a promotion in favor of a white woman.

Several PPGNY board members made remarks “stained with racist overtones” toward Mitchell, seemingly implying Christians and ministers, such as himself, were not welcome to work for PPGNY, according to the complaint.

Gillian Dean and Andrea Dean, PPGNY’s medical director and its board treasurer, respectively, allegedly referred to the former COO as “‘aggressive,” “angry,” “offensive,” “out of control” and “harsh.”

“These comments had the purpose and effect of negatively altering Plaintiff’s work environment,” the complaint stated, Live Action reported. Mitchell was allegedly “shunned by board members” who made the remarks, while non-African American, Christian or disabled colleagues received more favorable treatment.

According to the lawsuit, members of the PPGNY board also conspired to force the organization’s former chief executive officer to question Mitchell’s pastor for a statement on their church’s position on abortion, hoping to “paint Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff’s church as ‘pro-life’ in a particularly invasive attempt to terminate Plaintiff’s employment.”

Joy Callaway, a Black woman who temporarily took over for ex-CEO Laura McQuade, reportedly recruited Mitchell as PPGNY’s chief operating officer in 2020 as “part of her effort to change the organization’s culture.” However, he was allegedly passed over once the organization replaced Callaway.

Rosalba Messina, a white female peer, was appointed interim CEO in or around August 2022, shortly after Mitchell’s complaint — and despite the pastor being the second-in-command.

His lawsuit claims that “under long-standing policy and custom,” the organization, which provides services including abortion, should have named Mitchell in the interim. As a result, Mitchell reportedly was denied a $13,000 bonus.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jacquelyn Marrero has denied the accusations in Mitchell’s lawsuit, which follows that of another former employee, Nicole Moore, who submitted a 51-page discrimination complaint alleging the organization “tokenized” staffers of color. In addition, Moore’s lawsuit claims the “behemoth” hasn’t taken any steps to mend the harmful racial discrimination.

“Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, who was an unabashed racist, someone who believed in eugenics and someone who was a sympathizer for the Ku Klux Klan,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Derek Sells, said at a press conference about his client’s filing, Live Action reported.

Sells noted that the late Sanger is still cited as one of Planned Parenthood’s leaders at a time “where we have [a] culture where people like Harvey Weinstein can be canceled” and confederate generals’ statues removed.

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