Former MCC workers allege abuses

Workers claim retribution for raising concerns; MCC will share its perspective in court

Seven former Mennonite Central Committee workers released an open letter June 11 alleging a pattern of workplace abuse and termination practices that disregard health and well-being.

An online petition calling for greater transparency from MCC was signed by 642 people as of June 20.

Canadian Mennonite reported that one couple has filed a formal complaint with the provincial labor board in Quebec, their home jurisdiction, and that the case is awaiting a tribunal legal hearing.

The group claims each person lost their employment after speaking out about workplace harassment or psychological or emotional abuse between 2009 and 2024. Six members of the group are former international service workers who were based in Africa, and the other was a staff worker in Asia.

Signers include Anicka Fast and John Clarke, service workers from 2020 to 2023 in Burkina Faso, and Kathryn and Dan Smith Derksen, service workers from 2006 to 2009 in Chad. Fast and Clarke wrote they were fired following a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, shortly after raising concerns about workplace abuse to MCC executive directors and a board chair. The Smith Derksens wrote that they were fired by telephone and that planned mediation was canceled.

The three other letter writers are not identified. An unnamed couple who served in Africa said they lost their employment after speaking out about health needs while pregnant. The staffer in Asia was fired within the last four years after using MCC’s confidential system for reporting abuse.

The letter describes situations in which the writers say MCC program directors, executives and human resources staff disregarded workers’ health and MCC policies about medical needs. Supervisors ignored safety needs during times of instability and delayed or resisted providing health care, the writers say. They say that when needs were expressed or abuse reported, workers experienced harassment or silence before abrupt termination. One couple in Africa stated the termination letter they received contained inaccurate claims.

“In general, whenever we reached out to HR staff or the Africa director for help in our conflict with our supervisors, they would claim to recognize the validity of our concerns but then fail to take any corrective actions,” wrote one couple. “In this way, they continued to enable the destructive behavior of our supervisors.”

“We eventually reported our concerns about workplace harassment and abuse of power to executive directors,” wrote another couple. “They refused to meet with us but met with the HR directors about whom we had complained and told us that they had full confidence in them. We then reported our concerns to the MCC Canada board chair. He refused to intervene and copied, without permission, our confidential email to one of the two executive directors about whom we had just complained. The next day, we were fired.”

Other alleged patterns of abuse outlined in the letter include instances of MCC covering up allegations and evidence with investigations designed to overlook the reports and intimidation into silence through offers of payments contingent upon signing non-disparagement agreements.

Mennonite Central Committee released a statement June 18 addressing the open letter and petition. It stated MCC follows its policies when employee concerns arise and “seeks to resolve the issues for the mutual benefit of all individuals involved.”

MCC says it acknowledges former staff members’ hurt and is listening carefully to others sharing their experiences. It stated its human resources staff are “individuals of faith who are consummate professionals” committed to engaging with respect and care.

“On social media, statements may be made by others that are inconsistent with MCC’s understanding of the facts,” the MCC statement said. “However, because several individuals have initiated legal action, MCC cannot discuss the facts of the case in public forums. We will share the facts as we know them in a court of law at the appropriate time. . . .

“When situations evolve in unexpected ways, there are times when [human resources staff] and leaders within MCC must make decisions for the broader good of everyone involved. We recognize that individuals on the ground may disagree with those decisions. When this occurs, MCC seeks to find a resolution that is consistent with our policies and offers compassion to those engaged.”

The letter writers state they are aware of 17 other individuals or couples working on four continents “whose time with MCC ended in deeply painful ways.” They believe workers were unjustly fired in seven of those cases, and three situations ended in workers resigning in protest when required to act in ways they considered harmful or unethical.

Canadian Mennonite has produced a report based on interviews with the letter writers and others that goes into greater detail at

Anabaptist World

Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement. We seek to inform, inspire and Read More

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