Doctor files suit demanding reinstatement at LSU Health amid claims of discrimination, retaliation

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – More than a month after being placed on administrative leave, a doctor at LSU Health has filed a lawsuit in Caddo District Court asking to be immediately reinstated.

In the suit, Dr. Jennifer Woerner, one of four LSUHSC employees who in April filed official gender discrimination claims against Chancellor Dr. C.E. Ghali, claims the school acted unlawfully.

The suit, which is filed against the LSU Board of Supervisors and Edward Jones, assistant vice chancellor for Administration and Organizational Integrity at LSU Health.

According to Woerner’s attorney, Allison Jones, of Downer, Jones, Marino and Wilhite, the original EEOC claims were filed after “repeated incidences of inappropriate behavior by the administrator.”

In addition, Jones said, Woerner has been involved in helping victims file sexual misconduct claims through the school’s Title IX office.

On May 12, 2021, a month after filing her claims, Woerner was involuntarily placed on administrative leave in what Jones called a “retaliatory and unlawful” act.

Jones said, “Dr. Woerner was informed that she was being placed on leave pending ‘resolution of complaints’ filed against her by unidentified medical residents, and she was further directed to refrain from any clinical duties. These complaints coincidentally only appeared shortly after Dr. Woerner filed official complaints against the Chancellor, G.E. Ghali, for discriminatory behavior.”

The suit also names Mr. Edward Jones, in his official capacity only.

Jones is the school’s Title IX coordinator and assistant vice-chancellor for Administration and Organizational Integrity.

The lawsuit alleges that in Woerner’s Title IX complaints, she reported it was widely perceived that Ghali’s conduct was discriminatory and retaliatory, and that Jones had a conflict of interest that adversely affected his ability to conduct investigations of matters brought to him and this conflict deterred complainants from coming forward with their concerns.

Jones was the administrator who placed Woerner on administrative leave within 30 days of receiving notice that he was one of the subjects of her Title IX complaint.

The petition seeks both a temporary and permanent injunction that would immediately allow Worener to go back to work, and asks that a hearing be set “as soon as possible.”

Jones said resorting to litigation was a last resort for Worener, who tried to learn more about the alleged complaints, get a timeline for the investigation and not being given the opportunity to refute the alleged claims by LSU Health.

“We have been given no indication as to when this investigation will be resolved and when my client will be able to return to her duties,” Jones said.

She added that many students and patients have written the LSU Board of Supervisors and leadership seeking Woerner’s return.  

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court, was assigned to Caddo District Judge Craig Marcotte, but at the end of the day on Wednesday had not been signed by the judge, nor had it been served on LSU Heath.

Lisa Babin, executive director of Communications and Public Affairs for LSU Health Shreveport, said they only learned of the lawsuit after it was shared with them by members of the media.

“Media outlets have shared the press release from Downer, Jones, Marino and Wilhite alerting LSU Health Shreveport of an employee filing suit against the institution.  LSU Health Shreveport offers no comment at this time,” Babin said.

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