Senior health boss suspended amid bullying accusations
A senior manager at Queensland's biggest public health district has been suspended amid an investigation into allegations of bullying and harassment by at least 10 women.
The male executive, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was due to return to work last week at the Metro North Hospital and Health Service after a month off but has been stood down while its integrity unit investigates complaints made by current and former employees.
Complainants allege they worked in a climate of fear and anxiety, claiming they were belittled and berated in meetings, accused of "conspiring" when seen talking with colleagues or socialising outside of work and forbidden from approaching hospital hierarchy without permission.
They describe a boss who could be "erratic", "threatening", "controlling", aggressive" and "inappropriate", alleging he gave team members offensive nicknames, such as "Vinegar Tits" and that he played a game referred to as "root or boot" while on walks with female team members outside the office.
They claim the game involved rating women passers-by on their sexual attractiveness as to whether they were a "root or boot".
Whistleblowers allege a toxic workplace culture continued despite attempts to alert the health service more than a year ago to the senior manager's alleged behaviour.
Metro North, which has a "Values in Action" policy, is one of the largest public health services in Australia, with 16,000 employees.
It covers the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, the Prince Charles, Redcliffe, Caboolture and Kilcoy hospitals.
When asked about the senior manager and the investigation last week, Metro North Hospital and Health Service said it was unable to comment on individual human resource matters or investigations "for privacy and confidentiality" reasons.
The Integrity Unit investigation began after the women wrote to Metro North chief executive Shaun Drummond in late June.
Their allegations, detailed in The Courier-Mail last month, were initially referred by Metro North to the Crime and Corruption Commission, which is understood to have sent it back to the health service's Integrity Unit for investigation.
Some of the women, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed they feared for their jobs if they raised issues.
Originally published as Senior health boss suspended amid bullying accusations