Nicole Moore has filed a racial discrimination suit against her former employer, Planned Parenthood (Photo credit: Todd Jones)

Reproductive justice advocate Nicole Moore is suing her former employer, Planned Parenthood (PP), for racial discrimination. The Nicole Moore v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. lawsuit has currently been referred to mediation, said Chloe Liederman, one of Moore’s Crumiller P.C. attorneys.

In a lawsuit filed in October 2022 with the help of the feminist litigation firm Crumiller P.C., Moore, who was hired in January 2020 to serve as PP’s director of multicultural brand engagement, alleged that when she spoke up about racist behavior at the organization, and about how Black employees were overworked yet not being rewarded for their labors, “she was falsely accused of being negative, angry, difficult to work with, and chastised for her ‘tone’––complaints that had no basis in reality but comported with well-trafficked stereotypes about Black women,” Moore’s lawsuit contends.

PP’s executives’ efforts to reprimand and silence her led Moore to suffer such a severe panic attack that she wound up spending a day in the hospital. When she reached out to the company’s human resources department for support, Moore says she was fired.

The reproductive and sexual healthcare organization Planned Parenthood has faced other recent allegations of racism from Black employees. An August 2020 story published in BuzzFeed News claims that “26 employees at Planned Parenthood affiliates and the national office of NARAL, as well as 16 employees of other reproductive rights organizations, told BuzzFeed News that people of color, and especially Black people, were often stuck in lower-paying administrative roles, causing high turnover rates among staff of color and preventing nonwhite employees from rising to positions of power within the organizations. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are two of the most powerful reproductive rights groups in the U.S.” 

The reproductive rights groups that receive the most funding tend to be run by feminist organizations that are predominantly white, but they are often rooted in white supremacist theories of organization and structure, Black feminists claim. Moore wrote a recent editorial where she calls on reproductive rights groups to embrace unionization and collective bargaining, along with true diversity in their leadership ranks, if they want to be able to forcefully and forthrightly lead today’s reproductive rights fight.

Moore is a Harlemite who has been written about in the pages of the AmNews in the past, particularly for her Black Harlem Lives campaign, which looked to “endorse and recognize Black people and their stories in the Harlem community.” As a digital strategist, writer, and content creator, her work has deep roots in showcasing the contributions of Black workers.   

Moore explained to the AmNews that, after she had worked at Planned Parenthood for a year, it was time for employee promotions. But she noticed that in the Communications and Culture (CNC) department she worked with, which was at least 25% Black, “not one Black person on the team was promoted. In my eyes, I felt like, as hard as we worked…the Black folks at Planned Parenthood and particularly and especially on the [CNC] team were saddled and burdened with a majority of the work and had lifted heavy loads—particularly in our outreach to Black and brown communities. 

“For not one Black person to be promoted to me was definitely an indication of anti-Black racism.” 

In her legal complaint, Moore also recalled that three weeks into her tenure as director of multicultural brand engagement, one of her supervisors had reprimanded her in a hallway, in front of 10 other employees, for having replied to a group email by putting herself forward to take on a project. The supervisor “loudly reprimanded Moore for taking such an ‘active role,’ instructing her instead to ‘listen more’ and ‘remain quiet and observe.’ Moore felt humiliated and confused,” the lawsuit states.

“The Southern District of New York referred us to mediation, which is what the Southern District does for all discrimination employment cases,” Liederman said. “They want everyone to try the court-sponsored mediation program and if that doesn’t resolve the case, the litigation will continue into the discovery phase, where we have an exchange of documents, we take a lot of depositions, this sort of thing.”The AmNews sent a request for comment about Moore’s lawsuit to Planned Parenthood, but did not hear back from the organization before press time.

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