Doctor sues LSU Health Shreveport, claims her suspension is retaliation for complaints against school chancellor

LSU confirms Dr. G.E. Ghali has been reinstated as chancellor
LSU Health Shreveport
LSU Health Shreveport(Source: KSLA)
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 12:25 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 7:40 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Punitive. Retaliatory. Unlawful.

That’s how a Shreveport doctor and medical school professor describes her recent suspension from LSU Health Shreveport in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, June 16.

Meantime, LSU confirmed Thursday, June 17 that Dr. G.E. Ghali has been reinstated as chancellor. He released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“I have just been informed by the LSU Health Shreveport human resources department that the outside investigation into the Title VII complaints alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation, has been concluded. Additionally, I have been advised that given the results of the investigation my administrative leave had ended and I have been returned to the active chancellor position without restrictions. Thank you to my family and friends for their continued faith and support during this difficult time.”

Allison A. Jones, the attorney who represents Dr. Jennifer Woerner and three other LSUHSC-S employees who filed gender discrimination claims against the LSUHSC-Shreveport, issued the following statement Wednesday, June 16 about Dr. Ghali’s status:

It was April when Dr. Woerner, an associate dean at the medical college, joined three female colleagues in filing sexual discrimination claims against LSU Health and Dr. Ghali.

A month later, the hospital placed Dr. Woerner on administrative leave after a group of unnamed medical residents allegedly filed complaints against her.

Now Dr. Woerner is fighting back by asking a Caddo Parish judge to order her bosses at LSU Health to put her back on the job. A highly respected surgeon, Dr. Woerner has been barred from entering the hospital, teaching medical students and treating her patients for more than a month.

According to court papers, Dr. Woerner and Jones, of Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite in Shreveport, claim she hasn’t “heard anything” from LSU Health about the “nature of the alleged complaints” against her, despite Dr. Woerner’s repeated attempts to ask for an explanation.

“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,” Jones said.

Now two of the physicians that Dr. Woerner has filed sexual discrimination complaints against allegedly are seeing her patients.

Her lawsuit also states that prior to filing an EEOC complaint against Dr. Ghali and LSU Health, she helped several female students at the medical school file Title IX complaints for sexual harassment and discrimination.

“Resorting to litigation against a school that she loves was not an easy decision for Dr. Woerner. It was a last resort,” Jones explained.

“Despite repeated attempts to gain clarity about the alleged complaints against my client, to receive a timeline for the school’s investigation and to be given an opportunity to refute the alleged claims against my client, the school has not provided any meaningful information. 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.

In Wednesday’s court filing, Dr. Woerner claims her whistle-blowing in the Title IX case is why LSU officials took “retaliatory action against her” by placing her on administrative leave and keeping her away from the hospital, patients and students.

Jones said many students and patients have written to the Board of Supervisors and various members of LSU leadership asking for Dr. Woerner’s return.

“The school’s actions hurt more than just my client. For weeks, my client has been prevented from teaching her students and treating her patients, some of whom travel long distances to see Dr. Woerner only to be told that she is unavailable. This has caused great distress for my client and her patients, many of whom are waiting for crucial surgeries,” Jones said.

In the lawsuit, Dr. Woerner is asking for a court order clearing her employment record of any wrongdoing and asking that LSU Health bring her back to work immediately.

The petition also names Edward Jones in his official capacity as the school’s Title IX coordinator and assistant vice chancellor for administration and organizational integrity. The lawsuit alleges that in Dr. Woerner’s Title IX complaints, she reported it was widely known that Dr. Ghali’s behavior was discriminatory and retaliatory and that [Edward] Jones had a conflict of interest adversely affecting his ability to conduct investigations into matters brought to him and that this conflict dissuaded possible victims from coming forward with their concerns.

Edward Jones was the administrator who placed Dr. Woerner on leave within 30 days of getting notice that he was one of the subjects of her Title IX complaints.

“We are very disappointed that the school has clearly acted in an unlawful and punitive manner. We have given the school numerous opportunities to resolve this situation. We hoped the school would do the right thing by my client,” Allison Jones said.

“But it has become evident that they are unwilling to act. We are asking the court to step in and do what should have been done by LSU’s appropriate decision makers.”

The full text of Dr. Woerner’s lawsuit can be read below:

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