A former 911 call-center worker in Georgia is suing her ex-employer, claiming she was fired for experiencing two instances of heavy period leaks — a symptom of her premenopause — while she was at work.
For nearly a decade, Alisha Coleman had worked as a 911 call taker for the Bobby Dodd Institute, a job-training agency for people with disabilities, in Fort Benning, Georgia. But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, Coleman was fired in 2016 for two instances of “sudden onset, heavy menstrual flow.”
“I loved my job at the 911 call center because I got to help people,” Coleman said in a statement released by 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.”
The case was dismissed by a district court in February, but the ACLU and co-counsel Buckley Beal LLP argue in a brief filed with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals last week that the lower court erred in finding that periods and premenopause aren’t protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex.
“Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles,” ACLU of Georgia executive director Andrea Young said in the 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.”
Young added that shaming, demeaning, and firing Coleman for menstrual leakage is “wrong and illegal under federal law.”