Issues of trust, transparency and legality inform both critics’ and supporters’ responses to the Episcopal Church’s silence surrounding the termination of TEC Chief Deputy Operating Officer Sam McDonald and Director of Public Engagement Alex Baumgarten.
Religion News includes a number of perspectives in a story published today, including the impact on future situations:
By saying nothing about what types of violations occurred, the church heightens the risk that wrongful behavior will be repeated elsewhere as McDonald and Baumgarten move on, according to Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel for the Victim Rights Law Center…
including whistleblowers, according to Washington, D.C., attorney Russell Randle:
“If anytime somebody makes a whistleblower complaint it’s going to be spread across the pages of your paper or others, it’s going to put a real damper on anybody coming forward with a whistleblower complaint,” he said.
…possible confidentiality agreements:
In such agreements, terminated employees typically promise not to sue in exchange for severance payments and an employer’s promise to never tell anyone what happened, according to Manhattan employment attorney Matthew Schatz.
…the risk of lawsuits, according to David Gregory, executive director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at St. John’s University:
“If you make certain disclosures, you might get sued, but you can defend against a lawsuit that has no merit,” Gregory said. “But if you don’t publish and somebody subsequently is assaulted by one of these persons, then you’ve got the knowledge that you didn’t do the right thing at the right time. And that could lead to complicity of a criminal nature.”
…and the risk to the community:
Liz Shear, a professor of nonprofit governance at the University of San Diego, said rank-and-file church members will eventually need more information in order to restore their trust.