Ex-ambulance exec sues over toxic culture

·2-min read

A former Ambulance Victoria executive says the organisation has a "toxic" workplace and alleges she was robbed of a successful career due to systematic discrimination.

Tracey Tobias was appointed as the emergency service's director of complex care in December 2018, and was the only woman to hold one of its seven clinical operations director positions until 2021.

In her role, she was responsible for adult retrieval, air ambulance, and Victoria stroke telemedicine.

However, Ms Tobis claims she was denied the same benefits and conditions as her male counterparts.

Ms Tobias is suing Ambulance Victoria over the claims, with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers lodging a Federal Circuit Court Statement of Claim on her behalf.

Ms Tobias alleges she was denied an office while six male colleagues of equal seniority each had their own, and she had to work out of her car on some occasions.

Ms Tobias also alleges she wasn't given the same dedicated support personnel as her male colleagues and, while they were offered lease arrangements for work cars, she missed out.

She further claims she was denied permission to wear an Ambulance Victoria uniform.

Ms Tobias points to alleged "sexist and patronising" comments during her everyday work as further evidence of discrimination, with male superiors regularly telling her they were "protecting" her.

"This toxic workplace has robbed me of the last three years of what has been a very successful career. The boys club has to stop," Ms Tobias said in a statement on Thursday.

She claims that when she raised legitimate operational concerns, male superiors questioned her welfare.

When she complained to her boss about being the only clinical operations director without access to operational vehicle lease arrangements, he allegedly told her: "Why would we let a middle-aged woman drive a car with lights and sirens?"

Ms Tobias said she was ultimately forced out of the organisation after she complained about sexism in the workplace and other issues.

"From the patient care interface to senior management, women experience treatment which is paternalistic, over protective, and belittling," Ms Tobias said.

"Strong women like myself don't stand a chance in this organisation. My professional confidence has been shattered by the treatment I've experienced."

Her court claim alleges Ambulance Victoria breached the Fair Work Act by retaliating against her and not renewing her contract because she complained about sexism.

She is seeking damages for the organisation's alleged conduct, claiming it impacted her health, family relationships and professional self-confidence.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesperson said it was not appropriate to comment as the matter was before the courts.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting