Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and a former employee settled the his lawsuit, which alleged he was fired in 2016 for complaining that an organization’s executive benefited financially from an agreement the organization had with the executive’s mail-order company.
Mark Dawson’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed in June 2017, alleged wrongful termination and retaliation. Attorneys for both sides told Judge John Doyle on April 9 that the case was resolved. No terms were divulged.
Lawyers for PPLA stated in their court papers that the lawsuit made only vague references to the Internal Revenue Service and corporate laws governing alleged conflicts of interest and self-dealing.
Dawson, the holder of two master’s degrees, began working at PPLA in 2013, had a longtime expertise in fundraising and received good reviews for his work from 2013 through 2015, the suit stated.
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 agreement 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 alleged.
Bushnell ordered Dawson to exclusively use her husband’s company for all PPLA mailings, the suit stated.
“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 stated.
Two PPLA employees managing the direct mail program quit in frustration with RBI Systems, according to the complaint.
Dawson’s complaints to PPLA human resources about the mail order company and Bushnell was “pooh-poohed,” the suit stated.
Bushnell began scrutinizing Dawson’s work more than before and human resources outlined a performance improvement plan for him, the suit alleged.
Dawson was fired on June 20, 2016, “apparently based on … trumped-up allegations of performance issues,” the suit stated.