Former Tarrant County Public Health director tapped to lead El Paso’s health department

The former director of Tarrant County Public Health has been hired to lead El Paso’s health department, the city announced Friday.

Vinny Taneja led Tarrant County’s health department for nine years, during which he oversaw multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. His time at the helm was also marked with complaints about the department’s work environment during the pandemic.

In 2022, Tarrant County’s Human Resources Department reviewed Taneja’s management after a departing employee reported “pervasive and persistent bullying” and a “toxic work environment.” The county’s HR report concluded that Taneja had not broken any state or federal laws, but urged the county administrator to address the complaints “to help rebuild trust between Public Health leadership and staff and to prevent a loss of talent due to the current environment.”

Taneja did not face any disciplinary action in 2022.

Two years later, Taneja faced discipline after County Administrator Chandler Merritt issued him a “notice of intent to terminate.” Merritt cited a dispute over the health department’s policy for reporting HIV cases among children and complaints about the department’s work environment among the reasons Taneja was being disciplined.

In a detailed response to Merritt’s letter, Taneja disputed Merritt’s allegations.

“I have been responsive to staff complaints and have put mechanisms and tasked a few team members specifically to focus and help address issues when they arise,” Taneja wrote. He also added that he had sacrificed his own health and “went above and beyond” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taneja ultimately resigned from his position at Tarrant County Public Health in February, four days after Merritt issued the notice of intent to terminate.

Taneja did not respond to a voice message asking for comment for this article.

Taneja’s successor in Tarrant County, former Fort Worth City Councilman Dr. Brian Byrd, was hired in early June.

Taneja will begin working for the city of El Paso in August, according to a news release from the city.