I Was Fired From My Job as a 911 Call Taker for Getting My Period at Work

Alisha Coleman (bottom right) with her family: daughter Kristi, son Jerimiah and granddaughter Iyuana.

I love to work and have been working nearly all of my life. I’m not working now because I was fired from the job I loved for getting my menstrual period at the office.

You read that right. I was fired from my job because I got my period at work.

I have always worked hard and taken pride in the job I do. From the time I was a teenager, I managed to juggle school work and a part time job to help my family make ends meet. As a young mom, I worked two jobs to pay the bills and provide for my daughter.

My son was born years later and because I experienced some complications during my pregnancy, I couldn’t work. Once Jerimiah was born, I stayed home to take care of him for 11 months. We were living on public assistance at the time, barely making ends meet, but that all began to change when I started working as a 911 call taker.

When I got the job, I was so excited because I had been out of work and I would be earning more than minimum wage at $10.26 an hour. I would also be doing secretarial work which I really enjoy. I had to take two buses to get to work and worked long shifts, but it was worth it because I loved the job — I’m a people person and I love to help people.

Each year, I was able to do a little bit more. I finally saved enough money to buy a car, and after one year on the job, I started looking for a house so we could move out of the projects. Most people just do what they can to get by, and I was trying my hardest to give my family more. I made good friends and my office became a community for me. I was there for close to 10 years, and if they hadn’t fired me, I would still be there.

Before I was fired, I hadn’t been experiencing regular periods and had started to go through menopause. I had no idea my period was coming on. The first time, it leaked onto a cloth chair, I had told my employers what I was going through, but I was still written up and told I’d be fired if it happened again. The second time, about a year later, it was just as unexpected, even though I’d tried to take precautions. I felt the leak happen and tried to run to the bathroom, but when I stood up from my desk the blood ran down my leg and onto the carpet. Before I could come back to clean it, someone had already seen the blood on the floor. It was so embarrassing.

Even though I rushed to clean the spot with bleach and disinfectant, I was sent home. The next time I reported for work, they told me I was fired and asked for my badge. They told me I lacked high standards of cleanliness. I never heard anyone get fired for anything like that before.

When I walked out the door, I felt so numb. I was shocked and ashamed. How could this be happening? I called my daughter right away and she couldn’t believe it. This was my job, my livelihood, my joy. How was I supposed to pay my rent now?

To add injury to insult, it was the last period I ever had.

Being unemployed again after nine years has been a struggle. My son and I had to move out of our house and go live with my mom and my daughter. And I felt so humiliated. I always worked so hard and took such pride in my job and being able to provide for my children. But I’ve pieced together an income and I’m trying to stay positive and look into new opportunities, like pursuing my dream to go to divinity school.

After the initial shock wore off, I found a lawyer to take my case, but the case was dismissed -- the judge said what happened to me was not sex discrimination. Luckily, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia have taken the case on appeal. I am continuing to pursue this lawsuit because I don’t want any woman to have to go through this kind of humiliation and loss. As all women know, we simply cannot control the sudden onset of bleeding. Women cannot be punished and discriminated against because of our bodies.

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Anonymous

So sad and really sick. I went through menopause earlier than most and all I knew was I had to wear very heavy pads and never knew when it was coming. Crazy boss you got there. God has something better planned for you. Keep moving forward with positive attitude. God ( Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord) or if you believe in Karma, will take care of the past. Blessings to you and your family.

Nancy Pelosi

I got fired from being Speaker of the House for pooping my pants. 3 manure balls slid into my granny panties and caused skid marks. I also wet my diaper. I don't gave periods anymore. I mean I'm to old.

Barack Nobama

I wish I could get a period and stain my chair so that I could gripe and complain like most women do. Liberal women have nasty liberal periods just like Michelle

Anonymous

Why do you trolls even come on to the ACLU page? You have way too much time on your hands. Get a life. I blame your parents.

Anonymous

To the person that said we are NOW experiencing racism in the form of sexism...are you kidding me! Women have been experiencing this for YEARS!!! God Bless this woman! http://knowledgeofindia.com/quota-or-reservation-system-in-india/

Anonymous

Sue the pants off the county/city

Anonymous

Wow! I would have been kicked out of school in the 9th grade it they had the same immoral "cleanliness" standards. Men just don't get it.

Dan M.

I think you mean most men, I get it. That was the first time I've hear of a women getting fired for "cleanliness". I hope this woman get's all that she deserves, back pay and anything else she can get.

Anonymous

Dan M, I find it amazing that men like you can read a piece like this and still find a way to make it about you and your ego. Men systemically perpetuate and are clueless about sexism, and if you are offended when women group men in one category from time to time after dealing with countless incidents of sexism from countless men, you are part of the problem.

Anonymous

I don't believe he is making it about "him". That is an ignorant comment. You generalized "Men" and that is simply not true. A lot of men don't get it but there are some men who do. If you read all of his comment he said he hopes she gets all she deserves. AKA not about him, it's about the woman who deserves more and you generalizing all men don't get it.

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