Working Through Menopause
99 Washington University Law Review 1531 (2022)
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2022-02
63 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022 Last revised: 30 Apr 2023
Date Written: September 3, 2021
There are over thirty million people ages 44 to 55 in the civilian labor force in the United States, but the law and legal scholarship are largely silent about a health condition that approximately half of those workers inevitably will experience. Both in the United States and elsewhere, menopause remains mostly a taboo topic, because of cultural stigmas and attitudes about aging and gender. Yet menopause raises critical issues at the intersections of gender equity, disability, aging, transgender rights, and reproductive justice. This Article imagines how the law would change if it accounted for menopause and the associated unequal burdens imposed.
This Article makes four contributions to legal scholarship. First, it identifies the intersections of menopause and the law in a way that counters the larger culture of silence, stigma, and shame. Second, it analyzes the uneasy fit between menopause and existing U.S. anti-discrimination doctrines. Third, the Article uses a comparative lens to explore how and why menopause is becoming a priority issue for the government, private employers, and workers in the United Kingdom. Finally, the Article situates menopause in U.S. equality jurisprudence broadly and suggests a place for menopause in employment law in particular. It sets out a normative vision for menopause equity in the workplace and suggests possible pathways for achieving it.
Declaration of Interests: None.
Keywords: gender; health; employment discrimination
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation