This Article examines the change over the past few decades in U.S. law and societal attitudes concerning a worker's right to job-protected, paid leave. Though common around the world, job-protected, paid leave eludes the U.S. workforce. The authors begin by considering the concept of work, its relation to identity, and the construction of safety nets for workers when they need income replacement. The Article considers the movement to establish job-protected, paid leave that encompasses and values a worker's work, family, and personal life.
The modern movement originated with pregnant workers' need for time away from work during pregnancy. Women who believed that employer policies had discriminated against them on account of pregnancy did not fare well in early cases. As a response Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) in 1978, amending Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and defining discrimination on account of pregnancy as prohibited sex discrimination. This amendment set the stage for California Federal Savings & Loan Association v. Guerra and a debate on the meaning of equality for women in the workplace. Lillian Garland's pregnancy served as the catalyst for this debate which fueled a long-term California coalition. The Article discusses the legislative efforts in California over the last thirty years to expand workplace protections, accommodations, and benefits. It concludes by reflecting on social change through the lens of this movement to provide a coherent and comprehensive safety net for all workers.
Patricia Shiu and Stephanie Wildman,
Pregnancy Discrimination and Social Change: Evolving Consciousness About a Worker's Right to Job-Protected, Paid Leave
, 21 Yale J. L. & Feminism 119
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/facpubs/94