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Extending the Vision: An Empowerment Identity Approach to Work-Family Regulation as Applied to School Involvement Leave Statutes

90 Pages Posted: 11 May 2010 Last revised: 19 Jun 2010

Kirsten K. Davis

Stetson University College of Law

Date Written: 2010


Using school leave legislation as the focus for analysis, this article proposes 'empowerment identity' approach to work-family legislation as an alternative or complement to the commonly used accomodation and antidiscrimination approaches. In many households, working parents struggle to meet routine demands of parenting, such as caring for a sick child or attending a child's school activity. Interestingly, one of the most common forms of state-level legislation designed to address the routine demands of parenting is school involvement leave legislation. Although state school involvement leave statutes vary widely in how and for what reasons they permit time away from work for parents to attend a child's school functions, they represent the common view that the purpose of work-family legislation is to (1) accomodate episodic parenting needs when those needs interfere with work obligations or (2) prohibit discrimination by an employer when a worker-parent requires time away from work to attend to those caregiving needs.

After analyzing exisiting school involvement leave legislation and demonstrating that this legislation takes both accomodation and antidiscrimination approaches to regulating school involvement leave, this article suggests that an alternative approach to critiquing and crafting work-family legislation, particularly school involvement leave legislation, is the empowerment identity approach. An empowerment identity apprach, adapted from organizational communication theory, frames legislation as a discursive structure in which worker-parents should be empowered to construct individualized worker-parent identities through language related action. Accordingly, after explaining the empowerment identity approach, this article concludes that school involvement leave statutes, fall short of full empowerment but have the potential to empower parents to accomplish plural, individualized, and authentic identities as both worker-parents and as important stewards of their children's educations.

Keywords: school leave legislation, 'empowerment identity' approach, school involvement leave legislation, work-family legislation, school involvement leave legislation

JEL Classification: I10, I18, K10

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kirsten K., Extending the Vision: An Empowerment Identity Approach to Work-Family Regulation as Applied to School Involvement Leave Statutes (2010). William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 16, 2010; Stetson University College of Law Research Paper No. 2010-03. Available at SSRN:

Kirsten K. Davis (Contact Author)

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States
727-562-7877 (Phone)

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