Good Law | Bad Law #152 - The Pregnancy Penalty: A Conversation w/ Jennifer Shinall

How does pregnancy impact careers… for both parents? Is there such a thing as a “pregnancy penalty”?


Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast, Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Jennifer Shinall, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt, to discuss inequity in family leave policies, the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination and gender stereotypes that remain in the workplace.


A graduate of Vanderbilt Law and Harvard University, Jennifer has a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Law and Economics. Jennifer focuses on employment law, employment discrimination, health economics, labor economics and more. Her research examines discrimination, particularly in the areas of gender and disability. Exploring how health status (such as obesity and pregnancy) affects labor market outcomes, Jennifer considers how these effects may differ by gender and how these disparities may be addressed by the legal system. Today Aaron and Jennifer address these topics, specifically through the lens of parental leave policies.


How are men and women treated differently after they have a child? Is there really a “mommy track” and a “daddy track?” Jennifer explains that gender stereotypes do persist, and not just in the legal field. She explains that despite federal protections, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,) pregnancy discrimination still happens. Aaron and Jennifer talk about the different expectations there seems to be around parental leave, discussing two recent lawsuits filed against the giant law firm, Jones Day.  Both lawsuits revolve around the notion of family leave and the firm’s alleged inequity in applying its policies.  


To learn more about Jennifer, please visit her bio page here. You can also find her on Twitter, @ShinallJennifer.

You can find a full copy of Jennifer’s article, “The Pregnancy Penalty,” here. Published in the Minnesota Law Review.

To find an abbreviated version of the article on Jennifer’s blog, click here.


Host: Aaron Freiwald

Guest: Jennifer Shinall