Dana Bolger

Dana Bolger

  • Hosted by A Better Balance
  • Sponsored by The Art Lerner Memorial Fellowship
  • Service location New York City, New York
  • Law school Yale Law School
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Dana protects the rights of pregnant and parenting people in the Bronx to receive the accommodations and support they need to stay healthy on the job.

Every day, pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and bringing home a paycheck. Low-income women in New York spend most of their waking hours while pregnant at work, often in highly restrictive environments where workers’ ability to rest, use the bathroom, and eat are tightly controlled. Despite powerful new state and local laws protecting pregnant workers, employers continue to deny workers reasonable accommodations to prevent pregnancy complications from arising; paid family leave to allow new parents to bond with their babies, reducing the risk of postpartum depression; and lactation accommodations to allow breastfeeding workers to express milk in a private, sanitary space, improving the health of both parent and baby. When employers unlawfully push pregnant workers off the job, they can lose their income, healthcare, and even housing at the very moment they need it most.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first twelve months, Dana:

  • Created a Legal Clinic at a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in the Southwest Bronx, where she provides legal support and representation to working women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a new child.
  • Created and delivered a suite of “know your rights” and “issue-spotting” workshops to over 600 workers, service providers, and healthcare providers related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting, and caregiving, including how to seek additional information and assistance through the Legal Clinic.
  • Submitted testimony and lobbied New York City to improve its pregnancy accommodation regulations and successfully argued that pregnant workers should not have to submit medical documentation for certain types of accommodations.
  • Developed vital resources for pregnant and postpartum workers, including guides to workplace rights for individuals experiencing postpartum depression and “Pregnant in New York? Know Your Rights” step-by-step legal guide.

Next Steps

In the next twelve months, Dana plans to:

  • Pilot partnership with local maternal health clinics to ensure that pregnant and postpartum people’s workplace needs are evaluated and supported.
  • Advocate to pass federal pregnancy accommodation law, to ensure no worker has to choose between her health and her livelihood.

This can mean the difference between falling into homelessness and being able to welcome a child into a healthy circumstance and a financially secure home.

Dana Bolger /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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