April 21, 2023

Black Nurse Practitioner Sues Planned Parenthood For Alleged Racial Discrimination

Black Nurse Practitioner Sues Planned Parenthood For Alleged Racial Discrimination

Michelle Fisher, a Black Nurse Practitioner at a Planned Parenthood in Camden County, New Jersey claims that she underwent racially-motivated aggressions and mistreatment at work at the hands of two different White supervisors. 

After reporting many of the alleged incidents to human resources, Fisher was fired in 2021. She’s now suing Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey for race discrimination and wrongful termination in an ongoing case, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer

Her lawsuit comes alongside many other ongoing and settled cases against local Planned Parenthood offices that have alleged racially based mistreatment. 

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The Alleged Mistreatments Against Fisher

The Inquirer shared that Fisher reported ongoing mistreatments that included things like the clinic manager “berating” her for doing things necessary for her job. For instance, when Fisher wanted a urine test on a patient before prescribing birth control, a clinic manager slammed the urine down aggressively on her desk. 

She also alleged that her medical expertise was routinely questioned and she was not treated as a professional with an advanced degree. In fact, she says she was called a “pain in the ass” for speaking up. 

Fisher also claimed that a supervisor said things like, “Now get back to work,” accompanied by a closed fist or a whip-cracking sound. The Inquirer also reported that Fisher said her interactions with the clinic manager were “emotionally draining,” but she continued on with the work in an effort to be a presence for the patients she treated as a Black woman. 

More Discrimination Lawsuits Against Planned Parenthood

The Inquirer also reported that Fisher is not alone in filing a discrimination suit against Planned Parenthood. The outlet shared that at least two dozen people employed by Parenthood across the country have filed discrimination lawsuits against the non-profit. One report came from a Black woman who said she had been labeled “angry” while others involved Black employees claiming they were questioned and criticized more often than White employees. 

And while the allegations of racial discrimination and mistreatment are harmful enough in and of themselves, the employees who filed the reports point out that they’re also a worrisome indication of how Planned Parenthood may be viewing and treating its patients in clinics run by racially-biased administrators too. 

“If we can’t count on Planned Parenthood to respect Black employees, how can we count on them to care for people of color as patients?” Fisher’s lawyer, Valerie Shore, told the Inquirer. 

Planned Parenthood Social Media

According to the Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey

Facebook page, there is a clear attempt to support the need of Black patients. Their page features various graphics and posts aimed at supporting Black maternal health. “We support the health of Black mothers when we work to create a world where racism is eliminated, health care is actually treated as a basic human right, and high-quality care is accessible to everyone. #BlackMamasMatter,” reads one such post. 

Example 1:

Example 2: 

Lawsuit and Response


The Inquirer posted the full lawsuit paperwork and Planned Parenthood’s response. The lawsuit alleges that Fisher received mistreatment at the clinic manager’s hands, including:

  • Not being allowed to take breaks

  • Threats that he had fired other nurses for asking questions

  • Hearing from other employees of color that they had suffered mistreatment from him as well

  • No action being taken until a white employee also complained

Following the original clinic manager’s replacement, another White employee took his spot and Fisher alleges the mistreatment continued under her hands as well. 

That alleged mistreatment included what appeared to be special treatment to a white employee who was not as experienced yet still paid the same as Fisher and was accused of “gossiping” about patients. 

After Fisher’s lawsuit, another female employee of color came forward claiming to have experienced similar mistreatment, such as being forced to travel outside of her assignment for work while a White employee was not. When she refused to go to a site an hour away at the last minute, she was terminated on the spot but didn’t speak up until now. 

According to jamanetwork.com Black and other females of color are more likely to experience racism in the workplace than men. 

Planned Parenthood, in response to Fisher’s allegations, denied the majority of claims listed in the lawsuit. 

Image Source: Inquirer

Planned Parenthood Racial Lawsuits - List 

Fisher’s allegations come in a long line of other racism complaints against Planned Parenthood as a whole and in individual offices. For instance, The Inquirer listed other ongoing and some settled suits alleging racism that Planned Parenthood has faced over recent years, including:

Former Planned Parenthood Director Speaks Out

"While Planned Parenthood has publicly boasted its commitment to racial equality, the organization – whose tagline is "Care. No matter what" – has blatantly ignored reports by dozens of its Black employees of systemic unequal hiring and promotion, more work for lower pay, overt hostility, and trafficking in stereotypes by leadership," a complaint by former Planned Parenthood director Nicole Moore read, according to NPR.

Planned Parenthood’s History

The entirety of Planned Parenthood may also have complicated racist roots, which McGill Johnson, the president and chief executive of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, acknowledged in a 2021 op-ed in the New York Times. 

“We don’t know what was in Sanger’s heart, and we don’t need to in order to condemn her harmful choices,” Johnson wrote in her op-ed. “What we have is a history of focusing on White womanhood relentlessly. Whether our founder was a racist is not a simple yes or no question. Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.”

Fisher’s lawsuit is still ongoing and Nurse.org will update the case when new information is available. Nurse.org reached out to Planned Parenthood and was informed they do not comment on lawsuits. 


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