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‘I became a whore’ Workers say sexual harassment culture exists within Cedar Rapids Post Office

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 8:51 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2022 at 8:52 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A culture of persistent sexual harassment exists within a Cedar Rapids Post Office, according to a current and former employee.

Two workers said the United States Postal Service’s Northeast location in Cedar Rapids has a toxic work environment where employees regularly make sexual comments about women’s breasts, butt, genitals, underwear, and sexual performance. Multiple complaints weren’t investigated, according to a former supervisor.

A spokesperson for USPS declined a request for an on-camera interview with our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team citing an ongoing investigation, which started after we started asking questions. He did send a statement in an email, which said the Postal Service is committed to providing its employees with a safe work environment.

“Any report of sexual harassment is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,” he wrote. “Employees are encouraged to report any offensive behavior to their supervisor or manager.”

Emily Monlux, who is a mail carrier for the Post Office, said she disagrees with the post office’s perspective. She said she has made multiple complaints and hasn’t been interviewed regarding any of those complaints, which is required according to the Post Office’s Written Policy from 2018.

Monlux said she saw men working at the facility giving “extra attention” when a new employee is young, thin, and pretty. She heard comments consistently about her breasts, butt, genitals, underwear, and sexual performance on a daily basis while working at the Post Office.

Those comments included coworkers asking her to bend over to see her butt like “Can you bend over one more time? I’d like to check out the backyard.” Monlux also said other employees asked sexual questions, like if she had any piercings in “fun” places or if she was “Letting the girls come out to play again?” referring to her breasts.

She said she’s also heard comments mostly from male employees body-shaming other female employees without their knowledge. Monlux said sometimes those comments became sexual and were said directly to those female employees.

In one instance, she described a situation where an employee had a piece of cloth with holes in it during the post office’s mask mandate. Monlux said he ran over to another young female employee and claimed it was her ‘panties’ from last night.

“I’m looking at this 22-year-old girl and my heart hurts,” she said. “Because I’m substantially older than her and I know what I feel and I’m looking at her and you can physically see when somebody doesn’t know what to do.”

Monlux said multiple people were in the room during this event, including a supervisor.

She said comments would often occur when a female made a dramatic change in appearance. Monlux said she was called a 16-year-old boy when she cut her hair and another employee told her if “he couldn’t put in pigtails and use it as handlebars, it’s not long enough.”

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team requested the number of complaints, copies of any investigation, and any disciplinary actions taken related to sexual harassment in Cedar Rapids through a public information request. About a month later, we’re still waiting for the information and documents we requested.

Monlux requested a copy of her HR File about two weeks ago. She said she is still waiting to see a copy to see if any investigation was documented.

Colton Martinson, who is a former supervisor for the United States Postal Service in Northeast Cedar Rapids, had access to employee files and believes documents are missing or were never filed. He described the culture at the postal service as toxic and called it “a gentleman’s club” where employees swore and scream at each other.

Martinson said he heard other employees, including managers, making sexual comments about other female employees multiple times every week. He said it took him about a week to conduct an investigation because he was asked to fill out paperwork rather than have time to conduct investigations, which was frustrating.

“Nothing is being done,” Martinson said. “That still to this day, months after I’ve left and tried to better my life this is still happening.”

He also said he didn’t get training on how to handle complaints from employees

“The first time it ever happened I told my manager about it a lot because I was still such a new supervisor I didn’t really understand what to do,” Martinson said. “And from what I was told, my old manager was like, oh this happened with this guy before and I was like well if it’s happened with this guy before, do something.”

An Inspector General’s Report found nationally 24 out of 25 supervisors interviewed didn’t complete the trainings related to Grievances, which is the United States Postal System’s umbrella term for almost any issues in the workplace including sexual harassment. According to the report, employees received more than $225 Million in settlements over a five-year period.

Only $5 Thousand Dollars were specifically related to sexual harassment. But, the report also says the system managers would use to label those payments was outdated, inaccurate, or non-descriptive, which means those numbers could have been hired.

Our i9 Team found multiple lawsuits filed against USPS in Federal Court over the past five years and Monlux has found similar stories from other media outlets across the country, which has left her confused.

“If this is an issue and it’s costing us this,” she said. “Maybe we don’t want to go through this issue again.”

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