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Congressman will refer sexual harassment claims to federal investigators after i9 investigation

Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 6:31 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation will try to get the attention of the Inspector General’s Office at the United States Postal Service after an i9 Investigation on working conditions inside a Cedar Rapids Post Office.

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team reported on Thursday a culture of persistent sexual harassment exists within the United States Postal Service’s Northeast Station. A current and former employee described the station’s work environment as toxic where employees regularly make sexual comments about women’s bodies and ability to have sex.

After our i9 Team shared a list of allegations from a mail carrier, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Ashley Hinson’s (R-01) offices are working to bring those allegations to the agency’s inspector general’s office.

That’s an independent oversight entity within the Postal Service, which has the ability to perform investigations and audits to prevent fraud, waste, and misconduct.

The efforts from Hinson and Grassley’s Offices could result in an independent federal investigation. The office, which regularly displays its findings publically, also gives recommendations and requires responses to those recommendations similar to a state audit.

Aaron Britt, who is a spokesperson for Sen. Grassley, said the senator’s office wants to ensure the inspector general’s office is aware of the significant sexual harassment allegations. He also said Sen. Grassley supports people who speak out about problems within the federal government.

“Senator Grassley has always been a strong supporter of whistleblowers,” Britt said. “And anyone who would like to report wrongdoing should know that his office stands ready to listen and assist if we can.”

Emails, which our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team obtained, show Ashley Hinson’s office is trying to connect the current employee with the USPS Inspector General.

Rep. Hinson said in a written statement she will continue working to ensure victims have the support and resources needed to speak up if they are in a hostile work environment.

“No one should face sexual harassment or mistreatment of any kind in their workplace,” she said.

The United States Postal Service said it is aware of the allegations made within the Cedar Rapids Post Office and has no information to share about any open investigation at this time.

Members of Congress have asked the agency to investigate individual post offices in the past. Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) publically requested an investigation into a post office in North Dakota. But, the request was done publically.

Neither Sen. Grassley nor Rep. Hinson has publically asked for an investigation yet.

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