Protecting Pregnancy

37 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2020

Date Written: February 24, 2020

Abstract

Laws to assist pregnant women in the workplace are gaining legislative momentum in the United States, both at the state and federal levels. This year alone, four such laws will go into effect at the state level, and federal legislation is advancing farther than ever before in the House of Representatives. Four types of legislative protections for pregnant workers currently exist—pregnancy accommodation laws, pregnancy transfer laws, paid family leave laws, and state disability insurance programs—but very little is known about how each type of legislation performs, relative to the others. This Article provides empirical insight into this question, which is important for setting legislative priorities. After exploiting the differential timing of these laws’ passage at the state level, the Article finds across multiple specifications that pregnancy accommodation laws and paid family leave laws have several labor market benefits for women who have given birth in the past year. Conversely, pregnancy transfer laws may have unintended, negative consequences for women who have recently given birth. The results suggest that advocacy groups, who have typically favored all four types of legislation, should shift their focus to supporting accommodation and paid family leave laws.

Keywords: pregnancy, employment, labor market attachment, accommodation, transfer, disability, paid family leave

JEL Classification: J13, J16, K15, K38

Suggested Citation

Shinall, Jennifer Bennett, Protecting Pregnancy (February 24, 2020). Cornell Law Review, Vol. 106, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3543711

Jennifer Bennett Shinall (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

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