Coleman says she suffered from sudden period leakage, a common symptom of pre-menopause, and shouldn’t have been fired for it.
Alisha Coleman worked in Atlanta as a 911 call-taker for almost 10 years. She was fired in 2016 because she allegedly soiled workplace furniture.
Coleman was going through perimenopause, a condition signaling the onset of menopause. As many women of a certain age are fully aware, sudden, unpredictable, and abnormally heavy menstrual flows are often a symptom of perimenopause.
In August 2015, Coleman unexpectedly experienced the sudden onset of her period. It resulted in a small amount of blood leaking onto her office chair. As a consequence, her employer threatened that: “You will be fired if you ever soil another chair”.
Coleman consistently took extra precautions, but in April 2016 another unpredictable menstrual flow, which occurred as Coleman was hurrying to a bathroom, caused a stain on a carpet. She immediately cleaned the spot with bleach and disinfectant.
She was fired four days later for having heavy periods
Her employer, Bobby Dodd Institute, justified her dismissal by claiming that she “failed to practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty.”
As she says, “I loved my job at the 911 Call Center because I got to help people. I made good friends and my office became a community for me. I was there for close to 10 years. If they hadn’t fired me, I would still happily be there. 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 leak was humiliating. I don’t want any woman to have to go through what I did, so I’m fighting back.”
Coleman sued Bobby Dodd Institute under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, including “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.”
Trial court judge dismissed Coleman’s case
The judge (who, by pure coincidence, happens to be a 57-year-old white male) ruled that perimenopause is not “related to pregnancy or childbirth”.
Coleman has appealed the trial judge’s dismissal of her case. One of her lawyers is Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU in Georgia, who said, “Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles. Firing a woman for getting her period at work is offensive and an insult to every woman in the workplace…Alisha was shamed, demeaned, and fired for it. That’s wrong and illegal under federal law.”
Another of Coleman’s attorneys is Galen Sherwin, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, who said, “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.”
This is really sad
I have patients who stay home on the first day of their cycle. Bleeding this heavily is not normal and women with heavy periods need a full workup. There are several effective treatments; birth control pills, a Mirena IUD, and endometrial ablation are some of the options available to treat heavy periods.
I believe the attitude of the law toward such issues would markedly improve if men regularly endured menstrual cycles. In any event, I’ll be following this case. Let me know what you think. Thaïs
Read the full article at: www.allure.com