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i9 Follow-up: Postal Service manager gets warning after 5 employees complained about sexual harassment

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:52 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A manager at a Cedar Rapids Post Office was given a warning instead of a 14-day suspension after five different employees complained about being sexually harassed, according to documents our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team received through an open records request. It appears that manager was fired months later after other incidents arose.

A spokesperson for the United States Postal Service in an email statement told our i9 Investigative Team in April the Postal Service is committed to providing its employees with a safe work environment. Documents from the postal service have repeatedly said the federal agency has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to sexual harassment, which means “that every act or threat of violence, regardless of the initiator, elicits an immediate and firm response.”

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team spoke with a current and former employee of a Cedar Rapids Post Office site in April, who complained about a culture of sexual harassment in the workplace. Both employees told us complaints were repeatedly ignored or went without an investigation. Our i9 Investigation led to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asking for a federal investigation in April, which is supported by Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA01)

But documents, which our i9 Investigative Team received through a records request, show only one case reported to Human Resources related to workplace harassment across all the post offices in Cedar Rapids during a five-year period. That’s despite the employees sharing documentation of their multiple complaints to managers. The Postal Service told TV9 it does not have a way to keep track of complaints raised informally, resolved locally, or raised in a forum like the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO). Those numbers also don’t reflect the cases currently under investigation.

The Postal Service withheld about 100 pages of documents due to exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act, but gave us two documents called a “Letter of Decision”. Those detail specific disciplinary actions and the circumstances leading to those consequences.

According to the first letter, a manager made multiple sexual comments to other employees for years. Those accusations include:

  • The manager said to an employee she has “too small of ass checks for you to F--K”
  • The manager was heard telling an employee, “you want that day off, right? You have to give me something”.
  • The manager referred to himself as “daddy” and told employees “Clerks are going to work their non-scheduled days for daddy”.
  • The manager was heard saying to another employee “Yes, daddy is making you come in and work”.
  • The manager said to an employee “if you had children you would acquire a big ass and tits”.
  • The manager was heard saying “I love the way ---- walks around in her tight clothing” and “--- has a nice ass”
  • The manager said to an employee “if you were not married, I would force you to may me”
  • The manager made multiple attempts to enter another employee’s car
  • The manager retaliated against employees if he believed they made statements.

The manager denied all those claims in an investigative interview, according to documents. But, the postal service decided to issue the manager a letter of warning in lieu of a 14-day suspension.

Shawn Dickerson, who is listed as a Manager of Distribution Operations, wrote the letter dated March 10, 2021, and said the manager eroded the trust of his subordinates and demonstrated a severe lack of professionalism, leadership, and proper conduct. He wrote the manager presented himself as entitled and used a “Quid Pro Quo” mentality toward employees.

“Your inability to accept responsibility for your actions leads me to believe that I should question your ability, to perform the duties of your position with the USPS.” Dickerson wrote.

While the name of the manager is redacted due to employee privacy laws, a second letter indicates that manager was fired months later for other allegations, including sexual and inappropriate comments and failing to properly investigate a report of sexual harassment. That letter of termination notes the manager had received a previous warning letter in lieu of a 14-day suspension on the same date as the previous letter the Postal Service released to TV9.

According to the second letter, the manager at a Cedar Rapids Post Office denied calling an employee “C-Caine”, making remarks about an employee’s damaged leg, and claiming to have sex with multiple women.

An appeal upheld the overall punishment of removal but found the postal service failed to establish a preponderance of the evidence the manager failed to take appropriate action when receiving a harassment report.

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