A woman is suing her ex-employer after she claims she was fired for leaking during a particularly heavy period.
Alisha Coleman, from Georgia, worked as a 911 call taker for the Bobby Dodd Institute (a job-training organisation for those with disabilities) for nearly a decade before being fired in 2016.
A report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims Coleman was fired for experiencing a “sudden onset, heavy menstrual flow” on two occasions. The leaking – which she obviously could not predict or control – was a symptom of premenopause.
“I loved my job at the 911 call center because I got to help people,” she said in a statement for the 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.”
In a brief filed in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU and co-counsel Buckley Beal LLP argued that Coleman was subjected to unlawful workplace discrimination.
“Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles,” Andrea Young, executive director of ACLU of Georgia, said.
“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.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Galen Sherwin, the senior staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU.
“Federal law is supposed to protect women from being punished, harassed or fired because of their sex, and being fired for unexpectedly getting your period at work is the very essence of sex discrimination,” Sherwin added.
“This kind of blatant discrimination against women in the workplace is why the ACLU Women’s Rights Project was founded 45 years ago, and why the fight for gender equality must continue.”
Details of a court date have not been set, but we will update this page with more information as soon as it’s available.