A number of female defense lawyers in Portland, Maine, protested a new policy that requires them to remove their underwire bras before meeting with clients, as they allegedly set off the metal detector.
“It's absolutely outrageous,” attorney Amy Fairfield said. Fairfield said she learned of the policy when she visited the jail on Sept. 10. The attorney was turned away by a sheriff’s deputy after her bra set off the metal detector and she refused to remove it.
Fairfield continued: “He said, 'Are you wearing an underwire bra? Might I suggest you go to the bathroom and take that off?’ "I said, 'I will not. I am completely offended at that notion.'"
In the past, Fairfield said she’d been asked to remove jewelry and a hair clip. She’d never, however, been instructed to remove her bra. The policy was imposed by jail administrator Maj. John Costello. Fairfield attempted to contact Costello about the policy but never heard back.
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“They are just inviting a lawsuit,” she said. “It's discriminatory, it's harassing and it's a constitutional issue."
Sheriff Kevin Joyce said that there was no policy in place requiring women to take their bras off, but did say that the metal detector policy was being more strictly enforced as of late.
“We have a policy that everyone is put through the metal detector,” Joyce said. “What I'm hearing from the major (Costello) is that at least three (attorneys) tried to come in and had metal somewhere. There is no way (for a metal detector) to differentiate people with underwire bras and someone bringing in a gun.”
Gina Yamartino, another attorney impacted by the policy, called it “sexist” and threatened legal action if Costello and the jail don’t do anything to change it.
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“My clients are suffering because they are not allowing me to see my clients because I wear an underwire bra,” she said. “It’s ludicrous. This is a policy that needs to be fixed, or legal actions will be taken.”