A TSA screening belt (Photo: Harriet Baskas for USA TODAY)
A grandmother who traveled through Tulsa International Airport on Mother’s Day is suing the Transportation Security Administration, claiming she was subjected to an invasive strip search by two officers.
The lawsuit alleges the woman, who had TSA Pre-Check clearance, informed a TSA screener on May 12 she had a metal joint implant and requested to be screened by a body scanner. The suit says after the body scan was completed, she was told she would need to undergo a “pat-down” search, which revealed she was wearing a feminine hygiene product.
The lawsuit alleges that the two employees conducted a strip search and requested that the woman expose her genitals in order to inspect the feminine product.
Per the lawsuit, the woman experienced emotional distress during and after the incident, including a racing heart, shortness of breath, uncontrollable shaking, nausea, and panic.
The TSA has publicly stated that the agency does not include strip searches in their protocols.
“Due to pending litigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case,” said TSA Public Affairs Manager Lisa Farbstein. “TSA does not conduct strip searches and is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating passengers of all ages with dignity and respect.”
The TSA conducts pat-downs to determine if prohibited items are being concealed by those passing through security. If a pat-down is needed, it is performed by a TSA officer of the same gender and another officer of the same gender is required to be present.
The woman’s attorney, Jonathan Corbett, wrote in a June 5 blog post that the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, seeks injunctive and monetary relief.
“The TSA insists that it never conducts strip searches of passengers, but that message does not seem to be getting down to the screening checkpoint,” Jonathan Corbett told USA TODAY. “We hope that this lawsuit gets the message down and clear that no one should be humiliated in order to fly.”
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