Periods and Workplace Policy

Posted: 15 Aug 2019

See all articles by Marcy Lynn Karin

Marcy Lynn Karin

University of the District of Columbia David A Clarke School of Law

Date Written: 2019


Menstrual management is an obstacle to full workplace equality and economic security. Menstruation happens at work, but workplaces are not universally set up to support workers needs to address their periods. For example, existing employment laws fail to require breaks, flexible scheduling, or access to sanitary spaces to apply menstrual products. Periods and blood also are stigmatized, gendered, and subject to religious, social and other mythology. The corresponding shame and lack of menstrual education makes some workers susceptible to discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. This structural mismatch prevents people from properly managing periods at work. It also ignores the adverse employment decisions that are taken on the basis of menstruation or otherwise against menstruating individuals. Building on the 2010 federal law that created breastfeeding accommodations, this paper proposes a new menstrual management workplace protection law. This three-part proposal expands the menstrual equity movement and normalizes and destigmatizes menstrual management by: (1) creating menstrual accommodations at work, including access to reasonable, job protected break time and safe products that allow people to menstruate at work in the way they want, without fear of retaliation or retribution; (2) requiring access to clean water and sanitary facilities to address blood exposure; and (3) covering menstruating individuals under existing discrimination laws.

Keywords: periods, menstruation, gender, workplace, employment, breaks, time off, discrimination, equity, justice, accommodations

Suggested Citation

Karin, Marcy, Periods and Workplace Policy (2019). Available at SSRN:

Marcy Karin (Contact Author)

University of the District of Columbia David A Clarke School of Law ( email )

4340 Connecticut Avenue NW, Bldg. 52
Washington, DC 20008
United States

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