Woman Allegedly Fired for Getting Her Period at Work Because Women’s Bodies Still Confuse & Terrify Ignorant Men

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As if it’s not hard enough living in a world that stigmatizes menstruation, one that insists women feel shame for the natural inner working of their bodies, this story takes the infuriating ignorance surrounding women’s periods to a whole new level. Apparently, some people would rather fire a woman from her job that have to be reminded that uteruses exist and have functions.

Alisha Coleman worked as a 911 call taker for Bobby Dodd Institute, a job training and employment organization for people with disabilities. She had that job for nearly a decade before she was let go for getting her period at work. Most women know the embarrassment of having your period sneak up on you unexpectedly and having to figure out a way to deal with stained clothing at work or school or some other public place. But to be fired for it is as baffling as it is infuriating.

image: ACLU Georgia

Coleman is now suing her former employer with the help of the ACLU. As Andrea Young of the ACLU Georgia writes, “Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles.” Coleman reportedly experienced “two incidents of sudden onset, heavy menstrual flow, a symptom of premenopause.” And terminating a woman for displaying signs of premenopause should most definitely fit under the umbrella of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against workplace discrimination based on “pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.”

A judge hearing the case earlier this year disagreed and dismissed Coleman’s claim, but she’s now appealing that decision with the ACLU’s help.

Galen Sherwin, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, wrote in a statement, “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 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.”

Coleman told the ACLU, “I loved my job at the 911 call center because I got to help people. 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.”

Women have it ingrained in them from puberty that they need to live in fear of a blood on their pants and be embarrassed even just to buy tampons at a drug store. That degrading mentality toward our bodies is bad enough, but how are we still living in a world where being a woman is a fireable offense?

(via Revelist, image: Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.