The vast increase of menstruation talk over the last few years can't be underestimated.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, I remember being made to feel embarrassed at the fact that I disposed of pads and tampons in the bathroom where my brother and father might see them. (As opposed to, say, putting on a Hazmat suit, and secreting my menstrual accoutrements back to my room. Or burying it all in the garden.)
I felt like I wasn't supposed to even mention that I had periods, as if I were talking openly about doing something wrong. But, lately, more people — both female and gender nonconforming — are discussing what happens with their bodies, and trying to find solutions to the taboo. Even in work situations.
Some points of conversation about periods centre on getting answers to basic questions. Other period talk is about why menstrual goods are still taxed, and how expensive the items can be, particularly for homeless women. Additionally, other conversations about menstruation centre on the difficulties that many women experience, from fibroids, to endometriosis, and working through misdiagnoses. Now, Glamour reports, one woman is fighting her ex-employer, over allegations that the company penalised her for complications related to her period.
Alisha Coleman, a former emergency call taker at the Bobby Dodd Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, says she was fired "because of two period leaks she experienced in 2015." Glamour reports that Coleman was going through pre-menopause at the time, "which causes heavy and unpredictable periods." After the first incident, Coleman received a disciplinary notice from the Dodd Institute's site and human resource directors, and was told "she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow." After the second accident, the agency kept its promise and terminated Coleman — who had worked there for nearly 10 years.
"I loved my job at the emergency call centre because I got to help people," Coleman said in an ACLU press release. "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."
Glamour explains that Coleman's current suit is an appeal of the district court's initial ruling in the Dodd Institute's favour, which determined that "pre-menopause was not a condition protected from discrimination under the law." However, Coleman and the ACLU are "arguing that Coleman's termination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws workplace discrimination based on 'pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions,' among other things."
"Employers have no business policing women’s bodies or their menstrual cycles," Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in the press release. "Firing a woman for getting her period at work is offensive and an insult to every woman in the workplace."