United Way CEO Steps Down After Claims Of Sexual Harassment and Retaliation At The Organization Surface

On Tuesday, Brian Gallagher stepped down as CEO of United Way Worldwide, amid claims that the organization neglected to properly handle internal allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination.

According to the Huffington Post, three former female executives are claiming they were retaliated against by United Way, one of the largest nonprofit organizations, after coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment.

Three separate claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal regulatory agency that oversees civil rights claims, alleging their careers were derailed by management—resulting in two terminations. An attempt to fire the third woman was unsuccessful by the CEO, while the man whom she alleged sexually harassed her received a promotion.

Lisa Bowman, former marketing chief, filed charges, citing discrimination and retaliation. According to the EEOC claim, Gallagher fired Bowman after she filed a formal complaint with human resources against the behavior of a male colleague, whom she accused of making inappropriate comments and also stalking a fellow administrative member of the team.

In November, the nonprofit hired a law firm to investigate the claims and the organization’s handling of them. Last week, the firm, Proskauer Rose, concluded that the manner in which United Way handled the claims was appropriate and that the dismissals were “based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons.”

Gallagher stated in his farewell note that the report’s release made him decide to move up his planned exit.

“We were actively working toward a transition for me sometime later in 2021, at the conclusion of a CEO search process,” Gallagher wrote to his colleagues. “But, I and the board think it’s best for United Way if I step down as CEO sooner. It was important to me that I stay through this period, so my colleagues and I could be cleared of any wrongdoing. That’s done; and now it feels like the right time.”

Juliette Tuakli, chair of United Way’s board of trustees, stated, “We are grateful for Brian’s four decades of leadership and service in the name of the United Way mission.” Tuakli added, “Brian has always said that a great United Way leader is one who puts community interests first, their organization next and their own interests last. [He] embodied that standard.”

Gallagher, who has led the charity since 2009, will serve as chief executive until March 1. The nonprofit is expected to announce an interim CEO before his departure.

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  1. May 16, 2021

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