As if powering through a long day at work while on your period isn't agonizing enough, Alisha Coleman, a former 911 call taker from Georgia, was fired from her job at the call center after suffering two period leaks while on duty in 2015. It was reported that she was going through pre-menopause at the time, "which causes heavy and unpredictable periods."
Coleman said in a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
Every woman dreads getting period symptoms when they're not expecting them, but I never thought I could be fired for it. Getting fired for an accidental period leak was humiliating. I don't want any woman to have to go through what I did, so I’m fighting back.
After the first period leak occurrence, Coleman was issued a disciplinary notice by her site director and human resources director and was told that "she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow." After it happened for the second time, she was terminated from the job for failing to "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty."
She had worked at the Bobby Dodd Institute in Atlanta, GA, for nearly a decade, and now, with the help of ACLU, Coleman is suing the company for violating the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of gender - which includes pregnancy, childbirth, and other conditions related to gender.
Glamour reports that there was a district court ruling which determined that "pre-menopause was not a condition protected from discrimination under the law". However, Coleman and ACLU are appealing the decision.
“Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles,” Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia executive director said in a statement. “Firing a woman for getting her period at work is offensive and an insult to every woman in the workplace. A heavy period is something nearly all women will experience, especially as they approach menopause, and Alisha was shamed, demeaned and fired for it. That’s wrong and illegal under federal law. We’re fighting back.”
Let's hope Coleman's refusal to stay silent about this pressing workplace issue will prevent employers from thinking they could get away with sex discrimination and misogynistic behavior.