The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 4, 2012

Ex-mail carrier sues post office

Bernie Hornick
bhornick@tribdem.com

— A former mail carrier for the Johnstown post office is suing the agency, claiming she was sexually harassed and then fired on a pretext when she complained.

Hillary A. Kacian says she was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation in a claim filed in U.S. District Court in Johnstown. She’s seeking unspecified money damages.

Kacian, a Johnstown resident, began as a letter carrier in March 2008.

She claims a supervisor, who is named in the suit, began to harass her during the summer of 2010.

Without permission, the suit claims, the supervisor flipped through her pictures of a trip to Las Vegas and asked for a copy of a photo of her in a white bikini.

“Over the next few weeks, (he) continued to harass

Ms. Kacian about receiving a copy of the bikini picture,” the lawsuit claims.

She eventually overtly told him no.

Kacian says the boss then turned up the heat on her on the job, giving her more work than she could handle and ignoring her requests for help.

The sexual remarks – including talk about the length of her uniform shorts and her pierced tongue – continued, she said.

On July 14, Kacian reported her treatment to another supervisor. Five days later, she was assigned an unfamiliar route.

“She opened the door of her mail vehicle to allow some air to enter on an extremely hot day,” the suit claims. “Carriers are permitted to open their doors in such situations.”

While sorting the mail, she suddenly realized where a house she had been looking for was – and drove across an intersection with the door open, in violation of agency rules.

The supervisor apparently had been observing Kacian on her route that day and filed disciplinary action against her.

Prior incidents also were included.

Kacian was terminated later that month.

As part of a mediation, “The USPS offered to have supervisors in the Johnstown office give individual speeches explaining that harassment would not be tolerated. Soon after, Ms. Kacian was informed by former co-workers that the supervisors were laughing during their speeches,” the suit claims.

Ted Kelley, a spokesman in Pittsburgh for the U.S. Postal Service, said Monday the postal service hadn’t received a copy of the suit and he would have no comment.

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