KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri jail employee said she was placed on leave after putting her underwire bra through an X-ray machine following the implementation of new security measures.
Charlotte Hardin said she had to take off her bra because it set off the metal detector at Jackson County Detention Center. After putting it through the X-ray machine, she said the facility put her on leave in June, saying that undergarments can’t be X-rayed. She hasn’t been given a return date, she said.
“This woman has worked for the county for 20 years. She deserves better than this,” said Hardin’s attorney, Katherine Myers. “This is hard for her.”
Some women say new security measures implemented in May at the county jail are sexist.
Last month, about 75 female attorneys and supporters stood on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse and chanted , “We need support!”
At the time, the protesters said when their bras set off metal detectors, they must either remove them or meet with their clients via phone and separated by a window. The attorneys call that discriminatory because male attorneys aren’t affected.
Myers filed a sex discrimination and retaliation complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“This is an issue of equality,” Myers told KCUR.
Last month, Darryl Forté, the sheriff of Jackson County, said misinformation has been spread about the screening process.
“Everyone is required to pass through a metal detector,” he said. “No one has been asked to take off underwire bras.”
But attorney Laurie Snell said that, along with her shoes and jewelry, she was expected to toss her bra into the bin at the security gate during a trip to the jail.
“I went in the bathroom, took it off and threw it in the bin. On the elevator on my way up to the see my client on the seventh floor, I wriggled back into it. Why should I have to do that?” Snell said. “All the men have to do is take off their belts and shoes.”
Myers noted: “This is not just an attorney problem, this is a female issue.”
Diana Turner, the Jackson County corrections department director, last month contended the security protocol aims to prevent weapons and contraband from being smuggled into the facility. She added that her employees haven’t had abiding by the new policy.
Neither Forté nor Turner immediately responded to KCUR’s request for comment Friday.