Alisha Coleman was fired from her job at the Bobby Dodd Institute, an employment agency in Fort Benning, Georgia, after her period accidentally leaked through her clothes. Now, Coleman and the ACLU are suing the organization over her termination, according to USA Today.
The lawsuit states that Coleman was fired because she didn't "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty."
“I loved my job at the 911 call center because I got to help people,” Coleman said in a statement. “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.”
A first incident occurred in 2015, when her period leaked onto an office chair and she was told "she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow," the lawsuit states.
A second incident occurred in April 2016 when Coleman's period leaked onto the floor on the way to the bathroom to handle the situation. Her site manager told the site supervisor to fire Coleman over the accident. She was let go four days later.
The ACLU and co-counsel Buckley Beal LLP are saying Coleman's firing is an example of workplace discrimination on the basis of sex and that the company's decision violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
"A heavy period is something nearly all women will experience, especially as they approach menopause, and Alisha was shamed, demeaned and fired for it," Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia executive director, said in a statement. "That’s wrong and illegal under federal law. We’re fighting back.”
“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,” added Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU.
“Our mission is to help those with disabilities and disadvantages find work and keep work." added Bobby Dodd in a statement. "While we cannot share specific details about this case because it’s become a legal matter, please know there is more to this story than is being portrayed by those who are suing us. We can say we followed proper protocol and went the extra mile to avoid dismissal in this case, as we would for any of our employees.”