(CN) – The Nebraska State Patrol requires its female troopers to submit to unnecessary and invasive genital exams, according to a federal lawsuit by a female officer on Tuesday – a month after Gov. Pete Ricketts fired Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Brad Rice over possible interference in internal investigations.
Trooper Brienne Splittgerber claims that as part of her pre-employment testing in 2014, she and other female troopers had to submit to embarrassing genital examinations. While both male and female candidates for the job have to undergo physical exams, only female troopers had to also submit to the medically unnecessary procedure.
According to the lawsuit, Splittgerber reported the exam to her superiors shortly after, when she discovered from her personal doctor that examination of genitalia is unnecessary for pre-employment. She claims that the department knew about the exams and allowed them to continue, creating a discriminatory and hostile work environment for women.
“At that point it became clear the plaintiff’s concerns were being dismissed and the events covered up,” Splittgerber says in the lawsuit. “No meaningful investigation was conducted, either criminal or internal affairs. No charges were forwarded to a county attorney. No explanation was ever provided to Plaintiff why even after her report female candidates continued to be required to submit to the unnecessary and humiliating examination.”
This is not the first discrimination lawsuit the state patrol has faced. In 2007, trooper Carla Schreiber successfully sued the department for retaliation and gender discrimination after she was denied a promotion five times within a year. Rice, who was named in Splittgerber’s lawsuit, was a lieutenant at the time of Schreiber’s case and responsible for oversight of officer promotions. In that trial, a fellow officer testified that Rice said women shouldn’t be allowed in law enforcement.
Rice was fired last month after serving as head of the agency for about two years. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are currently investigating him and two other former troopers.
A call made to the state patrol for comment was made after business hours and not immediately returned.
Splittgerber seeks general, special and punitive damages on claims of civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Thomas White of the firm White & Jorgensen in Omaha, Nebraska.