LSU Shreveport med school whistleblower says she was illegally suspended from job in new suit | Legislature

LSU Shreveport med school whistleblower says she was illegally suspended from job in new suit | Legislature


One of the women who filed federal complaints against the chancellor of the LSU medical school in Shreveport filed a lawsuit Wednesday in state district court claiming that she was illegally suspended from her job for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment claims.

Dr. Jennifer Woerner, who some students had approached asking what to do about sexual misconduct incidents, was one of four women who filed complaints against Chancellor Ghali E. Ghali for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers trying to bring attention to the claims. “Three medical students came to me in writing about a host of offenses to include: writing pornographic book reports, asking students out for wine, derogatory comments about their looks, and taking photos of young women,” Woerner wrote in her allegations formally filed April 13 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also filed a complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

Within hours of the EEOC filing, LSU President Tom Galligan removed Ghali as chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, a post he had held since 2016. But Ghali kept his pay and continued seeing patients. His contract expires in December unless renewed by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Jennifer Woerner M.D. v LSU Board of Supervisors, at al.

On May 21, Woerner was “put on administrative leave pending an investigation into complaints against her,” according to the lawsuit. She wasn’t told the substance of the allegations against her or who had filed them. But Woerner was barred from campus. Staffers and students were told that they needed to contact the administration if Woerner attempted to contact them.

Ghali and another physician took over Woerner’s duties.

“We believe this is a direct retaliation against Dr. Woerner for her part in speaking out against injustices at the school,” said Allison Jones, Woerner’s attorney. “We are very disappointed that the school has clearly acted in an unlawful and punitive manner.”

“LSU Health Shreveport offers no comment at this time,” Lisa Babin, executive director of Communication and Public Affairs for LSU Health-Shreveport, said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Dr. Ghali E. Ghali, chancellor of the LSU medical school in Shreveport, was put on administrative leave Tuesday, a day after four employees fi…

The allegations against Ghali, a nationally recognized oral and maxillofacial surgeon, came in April as LSU came under fire over reports that university administrators had, for years, ignored and covered up the complaints of female students for subjected to sexual misconduct on campus. Galligan and the current LSU Board saying the cover ups took place in the past and enacted sweeping and expensive changes to the way LSU handles sexual harassment complaints. The Louisiana Legislature passed requirements of strict oversight and reporting in the future.

Former LSU football coach Les Miles lost his job at the University of Kansas because of reports, which he denies, of improper conduct with female students. And former LSU President F. King Alexander, who was in charge at the time, resigned under pressure at his new post as head of Oregon State University for his role in the scandal. An associate athletic director filed a $50 million racketeering suit against the school.

Woerner, two physicians and a staffer alleged in EEOC filings in April that 16 medical students had reported being sexually harassed by an administrative faculty member and that the dean of admissions had required good-looking female applicants and students to write book reports on pornographic stories. Both of those accused administrators retired recently, but the LSU Health Sciences Center employees who students went to for help were denied promotions and saw their job duties constricted by Ghali.

Woerner pointed in her lawsuit to LSU bylaws that give only the Board of Supervisors or the LSU System president the authority to change the work conditions of tenured faculty, as she is.

“It is one of the personnel action matters that cannot be further delegated. This, the President’s authority to appoint and terminate tenured faculty can be exercised by the chancellors, but not by anyone subordinate to a chancellor,” the lawsuit stated, adding that Woerner was suspended by an assistant chancellor. “Dr. Ghali directly benefited from Dr. Woerner being removed from her duties as tenured faculty and placed on administrative leave. Once she was involuntarily relieved of her duties, he took over many of her duties and assigned other to his supporters.”

Five more women have come forward to speak out about unresolved sexual harassment complaints at the LSU medical school in Shreveport, offering…

First Judicial District Court Judge Craig Marcotte, of Shreveport, was assigned the case.


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Matt Anderson