Tampa firefighter returns to work after winning pregnancy discrimination suit against City of Tampa

Tanja Vidovic sued for sex discrimination
Posted at 2:19 PM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 02:58:27-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- "It's my family's future. I've already invested a lot into this job. I love the job. I mean, I wanted to be an active member in the community helping people,” said Tampa Firefighter Tanja Vidovic.

Her career as a Tampa firefighter was cut short when Vidovic says she officially complained about being harassed on the job.

"As soon as I came forward, the pressure came up. Again, I never expected to be fired,” said Vidovic.

"The Fire Chief, I mean, he was aware of the harassment. He signed off on my evaluation citing that they were failing me because I was pregnant,” she said.

The mother of three sued the City of Tampa in March of 2016, recently winning a $245 thousand dollar settlement federal court. The fight cost taxpayers a bundle in attorney's fees upwards of $1.1 million including $300 thousand for private counsel plus her attorney's fees around $600 thousand dollars.

"We are still in limbo because the city hasn't responded with a start date,” said Vidovic when we spoke to her.

A federal judge ordered back in February Vidovic can return to her job.

Since 2011, records obtained by ABC Action News show a handful of sexual harassment race and other on the job discrimination complaints made against local fire departments.

There are two age discrimination complaints, one disablity, one sex and one race against Hillsborough County Fire.

St. Pete City Fire recorded one race discrimination complaint.

Polk County Fire has four sexual harassment complaints with no settlements.

Clearwater Fire had two sexual harassment complaints, one which resulted in discipline.

In Sarasota County, four complained about discrimination.

Back in Tampa, the city is still in litigation with another former female firefighter who says she was sexually harassed by a now-retired Tampa Fire Marshall Charles Owen.

Tara Crawford's civil suit says "Owen made unwanted sexual comments and advances towards her”, even showing her "naked photos” and attempting to show her "videotapes of him having sex."

A 21 year veteran, Owen retired from Tampa Fire days after Crawford complained to human resources.

Vidovic returned to her job Monday April 9.   

Two years shy of earning a substantial pension, she's concerned how she'll be received.

"Going back now, I would be untruthful if I said I wasn't worried,” she said.

But Vidovic also factors in the positives the City of Tampa recently announcing it will not pursue an appeal in her case.

"We need strong, smart, caring women to represent us in the Fire Department and it's not going to change the culture of the Fire Department. It's not going to change unless we are willing to not put up with it anymore, to say that this isn't right. This isn't the way we're supposed to be treated."