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 protected and advanced the rights of pregnant and parenting people in New York to receive the accommodations and support they need to stay healthy and on the job.

Every day, pregnant workers are forced to choose between their health and bringing home a paycheck. Low-income New Yorkers spend most of their waking hours while pregnant at work, often in highly restrictive environments where their ability to rest, use the restroom, and take time off to attend medical appointments are tightly controlled. Despite powerful state and local laws, employers continue to deny workers reasonable accommodations to reduce pregnancy and postpartum complications; paid family leave to bond with their babies and lower the risk of postpartum depression; and lactation accommodations to allow postpartum people to express milk in a private, clean space. When employers unlawfully deny these protections, they put families in the impossible position of choosing between their health and their income, at the very moment they need it most.

Fellowship Highlights

  • Created a Legal Clinic at a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in the Bronx to provide legal support and representation to workers who were pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a new child
  • Delivered a suite of “know your rights” and “issue-spotting” workshops to over 1,110 workers, healthcare providers, and service providers about workplace rights to family and medical leave, pregnancy and lactation accommodations, and paid sick time
  • Successfully lobbied New York State to issue guidance to health providers, employees, and employers, clarifying that pregnant and postpartum workers are entitled to monetary benefits in the month before their due date and in the six-to-eight weeks following delivery, ensuring that workers do not have to choose between their health and a paycheck
  • Persuaded New York City to improve its pregnancy accommodation regulations, successfully arguing that pregnant workers should not have to submit doctor’s notes to receive the vast majority of pregnancy accommodations

Next Steps

Dana will continue to fight for low-income workers as a staff attorney at A Better Balance, focusing on strategic litigation and regulatory advocacy.

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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