Woman Fired Over Menstruation Settles Sex Discrimination Case

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

A woman who alleged she was fired because of her heavy pre-menopausal menstruation has settled her discrimination claim against a Georgia nonprofit job training institute, an attorney involved in the case confirmed to Bloomberg Law.

“The case was voluntarily dismissed because the parties have reached a mutually satisfactory settlement,” Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, told Bloomberg Law Nov. 7. “I can’t comment further at this time, but the ACLU will likely be issuing a press release announcing the settlement within the next day or two.”

Sherwin is one of the attorneys representing Alisha Coleman, who alleged that the Bobby Dodd Institute unlawfully disciplined and fired her after she bled on an office chair and later a carpet. She brought a Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act sex discrimination lawsuit against the Institute in January.

The case posed the question of whether firing a female worker because of a “uniquely feminine condition” alone is sex discrimination under Title VII.

Judge Clay D. Land of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia dismissed Coleman’s claim in June, finding that nothing in Title VII’s text or case law “supports such a broad interpretation.” The judge distinguished Coleman’s case from one in another circuit where the appeals court found that workplace discrimination against a lactating mother was Title VII sex bias.

Unlike lactation, excessive menstruation is a condition “related to pre-menopause, not pregnancy or childbirth,” the judge said.

He also held that Coleman failed to allege that men received better treatment if they similarly soiled themselves and company property because of a medical condition, like incontinence.

Coleman challenged those findings in her appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Following settlement, Coleman sought voluntary dismissal of her appeal against the Institute, which the circuit granted Nov. 6 ( Coleman v. Bobby Dodd Institute, Inc. , 11th Cir., No. 17-13023, unopposed motion to dismiss appeal granted 11/6/17 ).

Representatives of the Institute didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s Nov. 7 requests for comment.

In addition to Sherwin, Lenora M. Lapidus of the ACLU of New York State in New York, Aklima Khondoker and Sean J. Young of the ACLU of Georgia in Atlanta, John W. Roper of the Roper Law Firm in Columbus, Ga., and Brian J. Sutherland of Buckley Beal in Atlanta represent Coleman. Leslie K. Eason and Julia C. Glasgow of Gordon & Rees in Atlanta represent the Institute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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