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Health director sues Corpus Christi city manager, claiming discrimination

In a letter to City Manager Peter Zanoni, attorneys for Health Director Annette Rodriguez said that Rodriguez "experienced discrimination based on her sex."

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The health director of the Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health District is suing the city manager under the Equal Pay Act.

In a letter to City Manager Peter Zanoni dated Oct. 7, attorneys for Health Director Annette Rodriguez said that Rodriguez "has experienced discrimination based on her sex and a hostile work environment." They also said that "Zanoni has a record of discrimination based on age."

On Tuesday, the City of Corpus Christi announced plans to withdraw from the joint city-county health district and establish its own municipal health district. Rodriguez's attorneys sent a second letter on Wednesday calling that move an "egregious form of retaliation," saying they plan to report it to the appropriate authorities, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"This further demonstrates the extreme lengths to which you are willing to go to retaliate against Ms. Rodriguez, personally and as the leader of the Health District," her attorneys wrote.

Credit: KIII
Health Director Annette Rodriguez and City Manager Peter Zanoni

3News spoke with Rodriguez and Zanoni Wednesday evening but neither would or could discuss the pending litigation.

"It wasn't caused by myself, and so other than that, I really have no comment," Rodriguez said. "Employees expect to be treated right and that's just the bottom line."

Zanoni consulted with the city attorney, who advised him also to decline to comment.

"The letter that you have and that I have copies of, while they have a lot inaccuracies and misstatements, my legal team of the city advises me also not to comment on legal matters," Zanoni said. "Also, generally we don't comment about personnel issues, especially with the community via the media."

Both Rodriguez and Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said Wednesday no one from the city told them about the move before the city announced its plans.

"It was given with no notice, no discussion, no lawyers talking, no plan," Canales said.

The health district split will take place by Jan. 18, 2022, ending a nearly 40-year-old partnership.