Red Cross General Counsel Out In Botched Harassment Case

The botched handling of a sexual harassment case at the American Red Cross (ARC) has cost the organization’s general counsel his job. David Meltzer had been with the organization more than a dozen years.

Meltzer resigned, writing to ARC President Gail McGovern today that, “in 2012, allegations of sexual harassment by Gerald Anderson were brought to my attention. Mr. Anderson was a Red Cross employee who reported to me as I was then the Senior Vice President for International Services. Based on the results of the investigation conducted by an outside law firm, I determined that Mr. Anderson could not continue with our organization.”

The issue was not the termination but a somewhat glowing announcement of Anderson’s work without mention of the allegations. Anderson was subsequently hired by Save the Children in Fairfield, Conn. He has been put on administrative leave since the allegations surfaced in a story first reported last week by the website ProPublica. No allegations of misconduct have been leveled against Anderson while at Save the Children, according to ProPublica. Anderson has denied wrongdoing through his attorney in response to ProPublica.

“The language I used at that time in association with Mr. Anderson’s departure was inappropriate given the circumstances. I deeply regret the damage this language may have caused the organization and its wonderful staff particularly the employees involved in this matter,” Meltzer wrote.

In an email to staff today, McGovern announced the resignation and senior management realignment. “Over the course of the last year, we have seen news accounts of other organizations and institutions contending with serious instances of sexual harassment and the harmful repercussions that such misconduct can create. Last week, it was our organization’s turn to again struggle with these issues,” she wrote. “I am proud that in 2012, management recognized the seriousness of the allegations and took swift action against the employee who had committed the misconduct. But I also recognize that communications surrounding those allegations fell short.”

McGovern announced that, effective immediately, Craig Mendelsohn will be interim general counsel and report directly to her. The International Services Department and Jono Anzalone, vice president, International Services, will report directly to Sherri Brown, president, Humanitarian Services.

Meltzer earned total compensation of $367,672, including base compensation of $325,000, according to the Red Cross’ Form 990 for Fiscal Year Ending 2016.

McGovern thanked the staffers who had come forward. “In closing, I want to again express my heartfelt sympathy to anyone who has experienced sexual harassment anywhere. I am committed to re-doubling our efforts to ensure the American Red Cross is a safe and inclusive workplace where employees can focus on our important work, and I want to reiterate once again that you can always reach out to me at any time.” She included her internal email address.