A model claims she was sacked from representing car giant Hyundai at a motor show because she was having her period.
Rachel Rickert, 27, has filed a complaint in the US alleging that she was “shamed” while working at the New York International Auto Show in April.
She says she needed to change her uniform after being unable to take a lavatory break in time to change her tampon.
She then received a text from her representative, Erika Seifred, telling her that the client — Hyundai — wanted her to take the night off because of her “period situation”, it is claimed.
Two days later, Ms Seifred called to tell her that the South Korean manufacturer no longer wanted her to work at the show because it had heard about the incident.
Ms Rickert told the BBC: “I was completely puzzled. I was really upset. I started crying… I book out shows, and I miss other opportunities. So I was just like, ‘What? This is not right!’”
She filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday against Hyundai and Ms Seifred’s management firm, Experiential Talent, which had hired her. The complaint is a precursor to a federal discrimination lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that Ms Seifred told her she was being dismissed “because Hyundai heard about Ms Rickert having her menstrual cycle and they didn’t want Ms Rickert representing the company any more”.
Ms Rickert had spent three hours greeting guests at the Hyundai booth before being allowed to take a break.
In a separate interview, Ms Rickert told the New York Post: “I’m not going to let someone tell me I can’t have my period when I work. It’s unacceptable.
“You’re not a robot. You have to use the bathroom especially when you’re on your period. They just act like we’re not human. I’m not going to be ashamed or shamed of having my period.”
She resisted going home afterwards, as she was being paid by the hour, and went to work as normal the next day.
Ms Rickert said she had appeared at 50 similar conventions. She said she had not received any of the $5,000 (£3,879) she had expected to earn.
“I’m not going to let people treat women this way,” she said. “It’s a natural thing that we have, our periods, and it’s not like I want special treatment because of it.
“I just want to be respected as a human and to be able to go to the restroom. And not to be considered a bad employee because I needed to use the bathroom.”
Hyundai Motor America said it had not yet been informed of the claim, but was looking into the allegations.
“We take any complaint like this seriously and will respond appropriately once we have a chance to investigate the merits of the claim,” the firm said.
Ms Seifred did not wish to comment.
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