Las Vegas grandmother sues TSA after being forced to remove pantyliner during strip search triggered by metal hip
Rhonda Mengert is seeking injunctive relief requiring the TSA to direct its employees "that they may not strip search passengers to clear apparent feminine hygiene products without the further heightened suspicion as required by law"
A 51-year-old grandmother from Las Vegas is suing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after they had her strip and forced her to remove 'a common female hygiene product' - a pantyliner- before her flight back home.
Rhonda Mengert was traveling from Tulsa International Airport on May 12 to Vegas when her hip implant resulted in the security metal detector to sound off. According to the report in Daily Mail, Mengert had informed TSA before the security check about her hip implant and had agreed to a pat down check.
According to the lawsuit, a 'common feminine hygiene product that Mengert was wearing underneath her clothing' was found by the agents who performed the pat-down.
The agent who performed the pat-down checked gloves for explosive residue, as per mandate, and found nothing. However, Mengert was told that she would have to go through additional search - another agent and a screener - who are the defendants in the case.
They informed Mengert to go to a private room so that they could 'clear the area.' The complaint then alleges that Mengert was asked to remove her pant, underwear to check the pantyliner for 'visual inspection.'
She refused initially but agreed to remove her clothing leaving her exposed to the agents.
Despite clearing the screening, she also had to ask the agents four times before she could leave. The complaint also states that Mengert was distressed throughout the process.
"In particular, during the incident, Mengert experienced racing heart, shortness of breath, uncontrollable shaking, nausea, and panic," the lawsuit said.
Mengert is requesting a trial by jury and hopes to receive an "injunctive relief requiring the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to direct its employees that they may not strip search passengers to clear apparent feminine hygiene products without the further heightened suspicion as required by law (or alternatively, under any circumstances)."
Mengert added on Facebook, "I want to advocate for changes in policies, procedures, training and oversight of TSA Checkpoint procedures."
She is being represented by Jonathan Corbett and Melissa Oxford who are claiming that TSA violated Mengert's Fourth Amendment rights.
While speaking to Las Vegas Now, Mengert said, "I was accosted. I had no personal ability to protect myself against them; they took it away. It's gone too far. It's overreach. It's too much."
In response to the allegation, TSA released a statement in which they said, "Due to pending litigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case. TSA does not conduct strip searches and is committed to ensuring the security of travellers while treating passengers of all ages with dignity and respect."
The statement also added that the pat-down procedure is required to determine whether prohibited items or other threats to transportation security are concealed on the person. "Travellers may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms."
The statement also added, "Passengers may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down."