A Georgia woman is suing her former employer after she says she was fired because of two period leaks.
Alisha Coleman, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, filed a lawsuit last week against the Bobby Dodd Institute, an employment agency in Fort Benning, Ga. In the filing, she detailed two occasions where her period leaked and she was allegedly given a disciplinary write-up and then fired.
She was told she was being fired because she didn't "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty," according to the lawsuit.
“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.”
The first leak happened in August of 2015 on Coleman's office chair, according to the lawsuit. She reported the stain to her supervisor who dismissed her from work to change her clothing and later told her "she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow," the lawsuit states.
On April 22, 2016, Coleman leaked menstrual fluid on the carpet on the way to the bathroom. After cleaning the spot with bleach and disinfectant, her site manager told the site supervisor to fire Coleman, the lawsuit says. She was fired April 26, 2016.
The ACLU and co-counsel Buckley Beal LLP say this is a case of workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, including “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions" and 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.”
Bobby Dodd Institute released the following statement after being contacted by 11Alive:
Our mission is to help those with disabilities and disadvantages find work and keep work. 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.
Coleman does not have a court date yet, but prosecutors expect oral arguments in the next few months. The ACLU said they want the courts to allow the case to move forward so a jury can decide if the company did discriminate against Coleman.
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