Lawsuit Claims Santa Barbara County Public Health Leaders Discriminated Against Employees

Dr. Henning Ansorg speaking during a public health meeting via Zoom in 2021

Three employees of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department have filed a lawsuit against department leaders Dr. Henning Ansorg and Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, alleging gender and racial discrimination, harassment, and workplace retaliation.

The plaintiffs claim the county failed to properly investigate workplace safety complaints and failed to protect them from further harassment, according to a report by  Giana Magnoli at Noozhawk.

The lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, names Dr. Hammami, Dr. Ansorg, and the county as defendants. It asserts that the alleged harassment, discrimination, and retaliation permeated the entire Public Health Department. The plaintiffs, Paige Batson, Dr. Noemi Doohan, and Shellie Robles-Davis, had previously filed claims with the county, but they were rejected, resulting in them receiving right-to-sue letters.

Dr. Mouhanad Hammami (courtesy)

The plaintiffs seek monetary damages and claim to have suffered emotional distress, anxiety, migraines, and other medical issues that required stress leave. They also state that the defendants’ actions have left them uncertain about finding future employment in the health or public health sectors in Santa Barbara County.

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Hammami disregarded the opinions and concerns of female, non-white, and non-heterosexual staff members, while being misrepresented as a licensed medical doctor, despite not being licensed in California. It also alleges that Dr. Ansorg made homophobic and racist comments and allegedly made inappropriate demands to nurses and directed them to engage in illegal activities. The plaintiffs claim that proper corrective action was not taken for these incidents.

The county has yet to be served with the lawsuit and refrained from commenting on the specifics of the allegations. A case management conference has been scheduled for August.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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