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Nebraska State Patrol Officer Claims She Was Subjected to Vaginal and Rectal Exam
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Nebraska state patrol

Summary: A female Nebraska state trooper claims female recruits were subjected to an unnecessary medical exam where she was ordered to lay on her back and hug her knees.

Brienne Splittgerber just wanted to be a state trooper like her dad. She applied for a position with the Nebraska State Patrol and went in for what was supposed to be a routine pre-employment physical check-up. What Splittgerber alleges happened was an unnecessary and intrusive exam.

  
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Splittgerber had worked for several other law enforcement agencies before she joined with the state patrol. In her lawsuit, she states the exam was “medically unnecessary and sexually invasive” as “she was ordered to undress, lay on her back, and pull up her knees.”

The doctor who performed the exam, Dr. Stephen Haudrich, is the target of the lawsuit but she names the state patrol, the state, two former patrol heads, and other individuals for discrimination and fostering a “hostile and dangerous work place for women.” Dr. Haudrich is hired by a company the state patrol contracts with to perform the physicals. He claims he is performing exams that the state patrol requests.

Splittgerber’s attorney, civil rights attorney Tom White, explains that the vaginal and rectal exams were only administered to the female recruits except for maybe one male recruit. The state patrol claimed the point of the exam was to check for hernias. The state patrol has indicated that they stopped requiring physical exams this past December, at the end of the most recent recruitment class so the exams were no longer needed.

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Splittgerber complained to her superiors about the exam but for nearly three years, her concerns were brushed aside while the exams continued on new female recruits. Only when she finally went out and hired White did they take her complaints seriously. Now it is apparent that other women made similar complaints against the doctor and the exam.

Upon learning of the complaints, Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a review into the issue. A 15-page report was released last week by Ricketts and his chief human resources officer Jason Jackson on their findings. They determined that Nebraska State Patrol’s “sexual harassment and workplace discrimination policies should be revised to address non-sworn and third party agent conduct.” They also want to see leaders undergo sexual harassment and equal opportunity training immediately.



The majority of the blame was placed on Brad Rice, a colonel who led the agency for two years but has since been fired. The review found that he was meddling in internal probes, violating harassment policies, and downplaying reports on the use of force. Jackson said, “The review sought to determine the validity of the concerns that were raised, while also recommending corrective measures. We will work swiftly to implement these initiatives in the coming months. Before the end of the year, we will provide an update on progress in the areas identified for improvement.”

When Splittgerber told her personal physician about the exam, she was told the exam had no legitimate medical purpose. This caused her “severe emotional distress, loss of appetite, an inability to sleep properly, anxiety and other physical symptoms.”

The State Patrol has said they are replacing the company they contracted with to provide the doctors who perform the exams.

White said, “Subjecting the Plaintiff and other female trooper candidates to a medically unnecessary and sexually invasive procedure is outrageous conduct which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” They are seeking a jury trial and compensation for her emotional damage plus attorney fees and punitive damages.

Do you think the case will go to trial or settle before? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about workplace discrimination, read these articles:

Photo: Omaha.com



 

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