Starting a new job should never involve a "sexually invasive" medical examination, especially if it is required only for female employees. But that's what female state troopers in Nebraska are alleging happened to them, according to a new federal lawsuit. Filed by State Trooper Brienne Splittgerber on Tuesday, the lawsuit alleges that the Nebraska State Patrol required "invasive" pelvic exams for female recruits prior to employment. The lawsuit asserts that the exams are "medically unnecessary" and performed by a male doctor.
Taylor Gage, a spokesperson for Gov. Pete Ricketts released a statement to The Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday, saying, “Immediately upon learning of these allegations in June, the governor instructed his chief human resources officer to review this matter, which has subsequently resulted in a criminal investigation by the State Patrol." The State Patrol does not comment on lawsuits, according to the World-Herald. However, State Patrol spokesperson Cody Thomas also told the AP that no state patrol recruits have undergone the exam since December 2016.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Splittgerber filed the suit against the Nebraska State Patrol, the state of Nebraska, two former patrol heads, and several others for creating a hostile work environment for women in the patrol. The Nebraska State Patrol and Gov. Picketts have not yet responded to Bustle's request for comment.
The lawsuit claims that the exam required female recruits to undress from the waist down to undergo vaginal and rectal exams in order to check for hernias.
Lawsuit says Nebraska State Patrol required female recruits - but not men - to undergo an invasive genital exam. https://t.co/O19OOQydd6— The Associated Press (@AP) August 2, 2017
According to Splittgerber, male recruits were not required to undress from the waist down for these exams. Reporting from the World-Herald indicated that a patrol lawyer specified that both male and female recruits were required to undergo hernia checks.
Splittgerber's lawsuit alleges that this has been happening for years; she submitted for her own exam in 2014 before she was hired in 2015, according to the AP report. The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages for a hostile work environment and emotional distress.
Splittgerber claims that following the hernia exam and beginning her job at the state patrol in 2015, her personal physician told her that there was no legitimate medical reason for the exam. Then, according to the World-Herald, she reported the situation to her superiors. However, she reportedly never heard updates about the investigation, and believed that the exam was ongoing for female employees.
In May, after the patrol's investigation ended, Splittgerber filed a discrimination charge with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission.