Who Is Protected? What’s Wrong ith Exclusionary Policies

Sally J. Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many employers have excluded women whose infertility is not medically documented from allegedly hazardous work claiming they feared if the women became pregnant, their fetuses would be harmed. In United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls, the Supreme Court held in 1991 that so-called "fetal protection policies" are unlawful sex discrimination. After examining four cases challenging exclusionary policies in Britain and the United States, this article unmasks and argues against the assumptions underlying such policies. By returning to well-established sex discrimination doctrine, moving away from a male norm, and reaffirming women’s right to both work and have children, the Supreme Court’s decision in UAW V. Johnson Controls is an important victory. The decision should help to break down job segregation, prompt the EEOC to act, and clear the way for addressing questions of health and safety rather than equality and difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-173
Number of pages21
JournalWomen and Politics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 26 1994
Externally publishedYes


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