A former employee at the Virginia Department of Corrections can move forward with a lawsuit that claims she was fired because the jail thought her tampon was contraband, a judge ruled Monday.

Joyce Flores alleged in a lawsuit that she was axed from her job as a dental hygienist in July 2019 after her colleagues mistook a tampon for contraband during a body scan at the facility, despite her repeated attempts to explain the situation.

“At no point did [Flores] bring or attempt to bring contraband into ACC. The reason provided by VDOC for the termination is pretext for sex discrimination. Plaintiff’s employment was terminated because she was a menstruating female utilizing a feminine hygiene product when she arrived to work on July 17, 2019,” the suit, filed in November, charges.

In response, the Department of Corrections asked a judge to drop the claims, arguing that Flores didn’t provide enough evidence proving gender discrimination at the time of her firing, the Virginia Mercury reported.

However, District Judge Thomas Cullen rejected the department’s request, saying, “Flores’ menstruation and use of a tampon — conditions inextricable from her sex and her child-bearing capacity — she would not have been discharged.”

In 2018, the Virginia Department of Corrections banned women from wearing tampons while visiting inmates citing concerns that its body scanning system would not be able to differentiate the female hygiene product from contraband.

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