Planned Parenthood Los Angeles was sued Monday by a former employee who alleges he was fired in 2016 for complaining that one of the organization’s executives benefited financially and had a conflict-of-interest because of an arrangement PPLA had with her husband’s mail-order company.

Mark Dawson’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges wrongful termination and retaliation. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A PPLA representative could not be immediately reached.

The suit states that Dawson, the holder of two master’s degrees, began working at PPLA in 2013 and had a longtime expertise in fundraising. He received good reviews for his work from 2013 through 2015, the suit states.

“By all measures he had a good record of success with his work at PPLA,” according to his lawsuit.

However, Dawson was targeted for a backlash by PPLA Vice President of Development Barbara Bushnell in 2016 because he complained about the mail order work being performed by RBI Systems, which had an arrangement with PPLA and was owned by Bushnell’s husband, Ray Bushnell, according to the complaint.

“This was a blatant conflict of interest from which Barbara Bushnell received direct financial benefit,” the suit alleges.

Bushnell ordered Dawson to exclusively use her husband’s company for all PPLA mailings, the suit states.

“It did not matter that her husband’s company was performing substandard work, often delayed,” the suit states

“The moment this cozy and improper arrangement appeared to threaten an investigation, she took action to get rid of plaintiff using any pretext available.”

Bushnell also directed that her husband’s company be used as a consultant to PPLA at $2,500 a month, which “further lined the pockets of Barbara Bushnell and greatly increased the conflict-of-interest presented by this arrangement,” the suit states.

Two PPLA employees managing the direct mail program quit in frustration with RBI Systems, the suit states.

Dawson’s complaints to PPLA human resources about the mail order company and Bushnell was pooh-poohed,” the suit states.

Bushnell began scrutinizing Dawson’s work more than before and human resources outlined a performance improvement plan for him, the suit states.

Dawson was fired on June 20, 2016, “apparently based on … trumped-up allegations of performance issues,” the suit states.

–City News Service

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