A former executive at the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the chapter alleging she was wrongfully terminated for objecting to unethical practices, violations of state and federal law, and other misconduct within the upper ranks.
The Red Cross of San Diego hired the executive last year as the chief development officer. She was terminated on January 5 after just four months on the job, Voice of San Diego reported.
“Plaintiff walked into a culture of mismanagement and unethical practices,” the lawsuit asserts. “It came to Plaintiff’s attention that sharing donor information externally was previously practiced by, and acceptable to, the Red Cross-San Diego. When Plaintiff refused to participate in this conduct and sought to put an end to it, she was faced with retaliation and ultimately the wrongful termination of her employment.”
Her lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in April, targets Bill Earley, the CEO of the San Diego Red Cross chapter.
According to the complaint, Mr. Earley agreed to share confidential information about the local chapter’s donors to boost attendance at a charity event and fundraiser, among other accusations.
The Plaintiff’s complaint says the American Red Cross database contains the names of donors and sensitive information such as addresses, phone numbers, emails, wealth data, and other information about spouses, children, prior gifts, and donor leadership roles.
“She was concerned about the gracious people of San Diego and not wanting their personal information shared to third parties,” her lawyer told Voice of San Diego. “She intercepted and stopped Bill Earley from disclosing the information, but she’s not sure if it was released after she left.”
“She also claims she was lied to about the organization’s finances and was made staffing promises during her interviews that weren’t kept, hampering fundraising efforts, a primary part of her job,” Voice of San Diego reported. “Shortly after her start date she learned the organization was $600,000 in the red, an amount totaling 16 percent of the budget.”
Additionally, she alleges that several months of mail was discovered at the post office, some of which included substantial donations. “Hence, none of the donated money was being allocated in accordance with the donor’s intentions” and donors weren’t receiving receipts as required by the IRS and Red Cross policy, the lawsuit states.
According to Voice of San Diego, court records show a mandatory settlement conference is scheduled for next May before trial.
Source: Voice of San Diego