Coleman was suffering from a heavy period due to premenopause, when her period leaked through her clothes and onto her work chair.
After this first incident, the HR department warned her that she’d be fired if she soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow. When she experienced this symptom again, she was fired for failing to “practice high standards of personal hygiene”.
“I loved my job at the 9/11 call center because I got to help people,” says Coleman. “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.”
Coleman is taking her case to court, arguing that her dismissal was unlawful workplace discrimination. “Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles,” said Andrea Young, from the American Civil Liberties Union. “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. That’s wrong and illegal under federal law.”
Heavy bleeding is a symptom of perimenopause in particular – this is the time right before menopause. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research reports that women who are taller, have had childen and are in perimenopause usually have the heaviest flow.