It was an odd night at the Hector P. Garcia post office—odd because Natosha Stewart-Dantzler’s regular crew had the night off. She worked the FSM (a sorting machine for large mail) alone. The noise of it was hypnotizing—like a metronome—helping the time pass, until something went wrong.
Stewart-Dantzler sighed as the machine failed. She called maintenance. A man who’d worked that shift for years appeared promptly. She followed him some distance to an area that included a large cage, a storage area for machine parts, and such. She hesitated. It looked a little scary back there, and no one else was in sight.
“It looks like a prison in here,” she said.
The man turned. “This is where I would keep you locked up,” she recounted him saying.
That’s what happened on the night of November 13, 2020, Stewart-Dantzler told KRIS-6 News.
“It immediately freaked me out and I ran out of the room,” she continued. “Later, he waited for me by the lunchroom. My regular crew wasn’t there, so I had no one to clock out with. He walked with me outside and asked me about my husband’s work schedule.”
In eight years of working in the same shop, the man had never even asked her what her husband did for a living, let alone what his work schedule was. She changed the subject and talked about the weather.
“He told me he likes it cold. And he likes to sleep naked in a sleeping bag," she said. "After that, I ran to my car.”
Stewart-Dantzler says she feared for her safety. She didn’t know if the man had her home address. Why would he ask about her husband’s work schedule? She says she couldn’t sleep.
The next day, she filed sexual harassment reports with the United States Postal Service and with the American Postal Workers’ Union.
She also found the man on Facebook under an alias. She wrote a strongly-worded note telling him he’d better never say anything like that to her or to any other female co-worker. He replied with an apology:
“Tosha, I am so sorry. I never meant to give you the idea that I was hitting on you. First, I wouldn’t lock you or anyone up. I was saying that I would hide you away, as in you wanting to hide from management.”
Stewart-Dantzler says she felt uncomfortable going back to work. She says the USPS has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. So, she was surprised to learn that not only was the man still working his usual shift but that she was expected to return to her same shift as well.
Instead, she sought counseling, while explaining to her union representatives that she was too fearful to return.
In January, she received a letter from the USPS scheduling a hearing to discuss her absence from work. She presented a letter from her therapist stating that she suffered from fear, anxiety, panic, and depression as a result of the trauma she suffered at the USPS. His suggestion was that she be moved to a different Corpus Christi-area post office, with full back pay.
In mid-April, Stewart-Dantzler received notice that she would be assigned to a new office and that her training would begin shortly. She is currently involved in that training but says she has not had discussions about receiving her back pay.