Firefighter says not much changed after winning suit against city

- A Tampa firefighter finished up her first week back at work Friday following two years fighting to prove the city wrongly fired her.

Tanja Vidovic said she didn't think twice about accepting her job back after a federal judge in February ordered the city to offer her previous position.

"I can't wait to get back out on the streets and actually get out there and to be a part of it again," Vidovic told FOX 13.

But Vidovic's first week back in uniform wasn't exactly a happy homecoming.

"There [were] a lot of shocked faces," she said.

Vidovic was at the center of a lawsuit stemming from how she says she was treated at Tampa Fire Rescue.

She said her seven and a half years with the department were marred with sexist remarks, come-ons by a supervisor, and retaliation when she complained.

Vidovic said her breaking point came during her pregnancy in 2015.

"They didn't want to work with a pregnant firefighter," she told FOX 13 late last year. "There was a firefighter who wrote a memo that he didn't want to work a pregnant firefighter and he wanted to be sent out of the station every time I was working there. There was another firefighter who compared breast milk to HAZMAT decontamination materials."

In her last performance evaluation, one of her superiors wrote a comment that she and her lawyers pointed to as proof her employers gave her a poor review because she was pregnant.

"Vidovic appears to have no concern for the safety of herself or the safety of her newborn child as she continues to work full duty as a firefighter," the supervisor wrote, commenting on Vidovic's desire to work full time during her pregnancy.

Vidovic filed a lawsuit in March 2016 and a day later was fired. Last December, a jury awarded Tanja Vidovic $245,000 in damages.

She said she's already experienced disappointment during her first week back at work.

Vidovic feels like she's still a target: she said her bosses are forcing her to go through a six-week re-training program. Vidovic said this is unusual in other cases of firefighters who have been fired and then re-hired.

"I thought that at the end of this the city had the chance to step forward and say, 'We were wrong, I'm sorry. Let's work on making things better towards the future,'" she said. "I thought that that was going to come and it hasn't yet."

Vidovic said she's made a series of recommendations, but few, if any, are being implemented.

"A woman and minorities council is important to have in the department. A pregnancy policy, a non-discriminatory pregnancy policy that includes different options, because no pregnancy is the same [are also important]," she said, adding she's surprised 75 percent of the fire stations still don't have women's restrooms.

Additionally, she told FOX 13 she's infuriated that, "nobody has been disciplined. I lost my job and two years of stress in my life and having to deal with all this for no reason and not one person has been disciplined."

A spokesperson for the City of Tampa declined to comment.

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