Sexual assault allegations at Prairiewood post office
A former USPS worker at Fargo's Prairiewood post office is speaking out, after she says a mail worker sexually assaulted and harassed her.
Another worker at the post office contacted our Whistleblower Hotline so we could investigate.
Anna Kowalski started as a carrier for the USPS at the Prairiewood station in August of 2016.
“I was super excited,” she said. “It was my first ‘big girl’ job.”
But her excitement was short lived. She says another worker started constantly harassing her.
"He'd call me incessantly at like 2 am," Kowalski said.
She says the worker was sent out on her routes to help her—but instead propositioned her, using vulgar language.
And then she says the harassment turned into assault.
"He came up into my case, grabbed my face, and tried to kiss me, and I obviously backed off and I was going like this, and he licked the whole top of my face," she said.
When she reached for her phone to call someone, she says it got worse.
"He comes up from behind me grabs me from behind, and starts dry humping me from behind,” Kowalski said.
Customer service manager, Jim Stewart, says because the worker is a member of the union, managements’ hands were tied.
"We took all the steps the post office could take to try to remove this individual," Stewart said.
"He shouldn't be there,” Kowalski said. “It should be my position, it should be my job."
Stewart, says the case was reported as sexual harassment—not sexual assault. But based on the contact that Kowalski described, it should have been reported differently.
"As far as I know,” Stewart said, “she never filed a police report or a report that it was an assault like that."
Kowalski tells us she didn't know what her case was reported as. She says she just told her entire story to the supervisor and postal steward and waited for a result.
After reporting the instances, Kowalski was told she would sit down in front of an arbitrator.
"That's exciting for me, right, because I'm gonna tell my side of the story and it's finally gonna be over," she said.
But it wasn't over: Kowalski says she never got to tell her side of the story.
"At the end of the day,” Stewart said, “the neutral third-party arbitrator said that we had to give him his job back, so we brought him back."
The station brought him back to work again in the same small office as Kowalski—and another anonymous woman who says he also harassed her.
"I was gonna put my head down, work, just try to ignore him, just try to be there, just have my job,” Kowalski said. “That was my goal."
In the end it was too much, and Kowalski and the other woman ended up quitting over it.
Now Kowalski works for a separate company, making just more than half what she did working for USPS.
"It's a pay cut,” she said, “yeah for sure it's a pay cut."
But Kowalski says her peace of mind is worth the price.
Kowalski tells us she's seeking legal action, and an attorney is currently looking into her case.