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Jackson County to pay $405,000 to settle 2 lawsuits related to ‘Bra-Gate’ scandal

Two women stand outside a building with signs protesting.
Andrea Tudhope
/
KCUR
Attorneys Molly Hastings, left, and Tracy Spradlin, right, lead a protest in June 2019 against the new security protocol at the Jackson County Detention Center, which they considered sexist and arbitrary.

The cases concerned a 2019 policy that required women to remove their underwire bras when entering the Jackson County Detention Center.

The Jackson County Legislature has agreed to pay $405,000 to two longtime employees of the Jackson County Detention Center who filed sex discrimination lawsuits against the county after they were required to remove their underwire bras to pass through metal detectors at the jail in 2019.

The controversial security measure was at the center of heated debate that summer, when several female attorneys were prevented from seeing clients in the jail because their underwire bras set off the jail’s metal detectors.

The plaintiffs, Charlotte Hardin and Linda Hengel, said they were required to remove their undergarments containing metal but not given the option to pass them through the metal detector. In contrast, male employees could remove their belts and pass them through the machine.

Hardin and Hengel claimed they faced retaliation after complaining about the policy. Hardin also claimed she was sexually harrassed by a co-worker. Hengel claimed she faced additional discrimination due to her physical disabilities.

Under the settlement, Hardin will receive $255,000 and Hengel will receive $150,000.

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