COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Gessell Colon, a United States letter carrier in Columbus, is crying foul after claiming she has been the victim of repeated sexual harassment on the job.
"I do fear for my life, for my children and I just want this to be away from here so I don't have to worry about this man," Colon said.
"On the way to the police department, that's when everything started," she said.
It was May 2011, Colon was new to Columbus. She, her four teen boys and the youngest two children's father moved from New Jersey seeking a better life in the South. But her first week on the route wasn't as hospitable as she expected.
"I got robbed and chased by a dog," she says.
She was robbed by two young men on 12th Street who demanded money or her life... emotionally distraught by what had happened, Colon says she cried as she told "Manny"--her kids' father-- about the ordeal back at the Milgen Road Post Office. He, too, is postal worker.
But the problem she says came in when her acting manager drove her to the police department to make an official report.
"Because I was in shorts, he caressed my lap and then he grabbed my hand and caressed my hand," she said.
Colon said she moved her supervisor's hand away from her legs.
"Even though it was uncomfortable, at first I thought this may be Southern hospitality...I didn't know; I've never been in South before," Colon said.
Colon says she realized her thoughts were far from the truth. She laid out the allegations in this court filing: The caressing turned into a litany of harassing text messages, calling her baby and touching her on the job in front of others.
But, when Colon says she blatantly told her acting manager she wasn't interested, the harassing got worse and later turned to hostility in the workplace.
The post office separated Colon and her acting manager. She was moved to the Buena Vista Road location but, she says still, he would often show up at her worksite and even on her routes. Later, the acting manager was reassigned to a site outside of Columbus but Colon said he never went to the location and was eventually reassigned back to Columbus.
The postal service contends it acted immediately with appropriate corrective action. In a pre- hearing statement from the post office, the agency states it will prove Colon cannot establish a case of discrimination and that the alleged harassment was not sufficiently severe or pervasive and did not create an abusive working environment.
Colon is being represented by Attorney Dorothy Williams. In March, the EEOC denied the post service's request for summary judgement to basically throw out the case. Both sides are now waiting on a trial date. We reached out to the post office for comment and they declined due to pending litigation.
In the meantime, Colon said she is on unpaid medical leave as she seeks psychological help for anxiety and mental stress.