Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-2pzkn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-22T06:42:09.773Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Allies Already Poised to Comply: How Social Proximity Affects Lactation at Work Law Compliance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024


This study demonstrates how legal compliance may be better achieved when organizations include individuals who will advocate for newly codified rights and related accommodations. To understand compliance with a new law and the rights it confers, this article examines as its case study the Lactation at Work law, which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to mandate basic provisions for employees to express breast milk at work. In particular, this study interviewed those organizational actors who translate the law into the policies affecting workers' daily lives: supervising mangers and human resources personnel. Those studied in this article were “Allies Already:” friends or relatives of breastfeeding workers, or ones themselves, who held pro-breastfeeding values and understood the complexities of combining lactation and employment. They mobilized within their organization to comply with the law swiftly and fully—often even overcomplying. This article demonstrates how heightened compliance, particularly with new laws, may be achieved even without directly affected actors mobilizing their own rights if allies champion needed accommodations.

© 2019 Law and Society Association.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abraham, Mabel (2017) “Pay Formalization Revisited: Considering the Effects of Manager Gender and Discretion on Closing the Gender Wage Gap,” 60 Academy of Management 2954.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Albiston, Catherine & O'Connor, Lindsey Trimble (2016) “Just Leave,” 39 Harvard J. of Law & Gender 165.Google Scholar
Albiston, Catherine R. (2005) “Bargaining in the Shadow of Social Institutions: Competing Discourses and Social Change in Workplace Mobilization of Civil Rights,” 39 Law & Society Rev. 1149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Asta, Elizabeth L. & Vacha-Haase, Tammi (2013) “Heterosexual Ally Development in Counceling Psychologists: Experiences, Training, and Advocacy,” 41 The Counseling Psychologist 493529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bandes, Susan (1996) “Empathy, Narrative, and Victim Impact Statements,” 63 The Univ. of Chicago Law Rev. 361412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bandes, Susan A. & Blumenthal, Jeremy A. (2012) “Emotion and the Law,” 2012 Annual Rev. of Law & Social Science 161–81.Google Scholar
Barnes, Jeb & Burke, Thomas F. (2006) “The Diffusion of Rights: From Law on the Books to Organizational Rights Practices,” 40 Law & Society Rev. 493523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barnes, Jeb & Burke, Thomas F. (2012) “Making Way: Legal Mobilization, Organizational Response, and Wheelchair Access,” 46 Law & Society Rev. 167–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Battilana, Julie (2006) “Agency and Institutions: The Enabling Role of Individuals' Social Position,” 13 Organization 653–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Battilana, Julie, Leca, Bernard, & Boxenbaum, Eva (2009) “How Actors Change Institutions: Towards a Theory of Institutional Entrepreneurship,” 3 Academy of Management Annals 65107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benard, Stephen & Correll, Shelley J. (2010) “Normative Discrimination and the Motherhood Penalty,” 25 Gender & Society 616–46.Google Scholar
Bernstein, Mary, Anna-Maria Marshall, & Scott Barclay (2009) “The Challenge of Law: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Social Movements,” in Bernstein, M., Marshall, A.-M., & Barclay, S., eds., Queer Mobilizations: LBGT Activists Confront the Law. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
Bockhaven, Wouter Van, Matthyssens, Paul, & Vandenbempt, Koen (2015) “Empowering the Underdog: Soft Power in the Development of Collective Institutional Entrepreneurship in Business Markets,” 48 Industrial Marketing Management 174–86.Google Scholar
Boyle, Elizabeth H. & Corle, Amelia C. (2010) “Law and Culture in a Global Context: Interventions to Eradicate Genital Cutting,” 6 Annual Rev. of Law and Social Science 195215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Broido, Ellen M. (1997) The Development of Social Justice Allies During College: A Phenomenaological Investiation. Doctor of Education, Counselor Education, The Pennsylvania State Univ., UMI.Google Scholar
Budig, Michelle J. & England, Paula (2001) “The Wage Penalty for Motherhood,” 66 American Sociological Rev. 204–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Casey, Erin & Smith, Tyler (2010) ““How Can I Not?” : Men's Pathways to Involvement in Anti-Violence against Women Work,” 16 Violence Against Women 953–73.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cronqvist, Henrik & Yu, Frank (2017) “Shaped by Their Daughters: Executives, Female Socialization, and Corporate Social Responsibility,” 126 J. of Financial Economics 543–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Decety, Jean (2011) in Ickes, William, ed., The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Boston: The MIT Press.Google ScholarPubMed
DiMaggio, Paul (1988) “Interest and Agency in Institutional Theory,” in Zucker, L., ed., Institutional Patterns and Organizations. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger. 322.Google Scholar
Dinour, Lauren M. & Bai, Yeon K. (2016) “Breastfeeding: The Illusion of Choice,” 26 Women's Health Issues 479–82.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Edelman, Lauren B., Fuller, Sally Riggs, & Mara-Ditra, Iona (2001) “Diversity Rhetoric and the Managerialization of Law,” 106 American J. of Sociology 1589–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Edelman, Lauren B. & Suchman, Mark C. (1997) “The Legal Environments of Organizations,” 23 Annual Rev. of Sociology 479515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Edelman, Lauren B., Uggen, Christopher, & Erlanger, Howard S. (1999) “The Endogeneity of Legal Regulation: Grievance Procedures as Rational Myth,” 105 American J. of Sociology 406–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Engel, David M. & Munger, Frank W. (1996) “Rights, Remembrance, and the Reconciliation of Difference.” 30 Law & Society Rev. 753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Engel, David M. and Munger, Frank W. (2003) Rights of Inclusion: Law and Identity in the Life Stories of Americans with Disabilities. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Epp, Charles R. (1998) The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective. New York: Univ. of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fingerhut, Adam W. (2011) “Straight Allies: What Predicts Heterosexuals' Alliance with the LGBT Community?41 J. of Applied Social Psychology 2230–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gangl, Markus & Ziefle, Andrea (2015) “The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers' Work Commitment in Germany,” 121 American J. of Sociology 511–63.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gartner, Lawrence M., et al. (2005) “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” 115 Pediatrics 496506.Google ScholarPubMed
Glass, Christy & Fodor, Eva (2018) “Managing Motherhood: Job Context and Employer Bias,” 45 Work and Occupation 202–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glynn, Adam N. & Sen, Maya (2014) “Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women's Issues?59 American J. of Political Science 3754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Green, Colin P. & Homroy, Swarnodeep (2018) “Female Directors, Board Committees and Firm Performance,” 102 European Economic Rev. 1938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gunningham, Neil A., Kagan, Robert A., & Thornton, Dorothy (2003) Shades of Green: Business, Regulation, and Environment. Berkeley: Stanford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
Hawkins, Keith (2013) “Enforcing Regulation: Robert Kagan's Contribution—And Some Questions,” 38 Law & Social Inquiry 950–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Health Resources and Services Administration (2015) “The Business Case for Breastfeeding,” Maternal and Child Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: (accessed 5 December 2015).Google Scholar
Hind, Christine (2007) “Multi-Sited Ethnography as a Middle Range Methodology for Contemporary STS,” 32 Science, Technology & Human Values 652–71.Google Scholar
Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2003) “Legal Consciousness and Dispute Resolution: Different Disputing Behavior at Two Similar Taxicab Companies,” 28 Law & Social Inquiry 691715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2005) “Dispute Resolution in a Worker Cooperative: Formal Procedures and Procedural Justice,” 39 Law & Society Rev. 5182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoffmann, Elizabeth A. (2012) Co-Operative Workplace Dispute Resolution: Organizational Structure, Ownership, and Ideology. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Hoffmann, Elizabeth A.forthcoming) Pumping Justice: Law, Lactation, and Pathways to Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Hseigh, Hsiu-Fang & Shannon, Sarah E. (2005) “Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis,” 15 Qualitative Health Research 1277–88.Google Scholar
Indiana State Department of Health (2008) Breastfeeding. Available at: (accessed 11 February 2016).Google Scholar
Jacknowitz, Alison (2008) “The Role of Workplace Characteristics in Breastfeeding Practices,” 47 Women and Health 87111.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jantzer, Amanda M., Anderson, Jenn, & Kuehl, Rebecca A. (2018) “Breastfeeding Support in the Workplace: The Relationships among Breastfeeding Support, Work–Life Balance, and Job Satisfaction,” 34 J. of Human Lactation 379–85.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kagan, Robert A., Gunningham, Neil, & Thornton, Dorothy (2003) “Explaining Corporate Environmental Performance: How Does Regulation Matter?37 Law & Society Rev. 5190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kagan, Robert A., Gunningham, Neil, & Thornton, Dorothy (2012) “Fear, Duty, and Regulatory Compliance: Lessons from Three Research Projects,” in Park, C. & Nielsen, V. L., eds., Explaining Compliance: Business Responses to Regulation. Northampton: Edward Edgar, 3758.Google Scholar
Kim, Julia H., Shin, Jong C., & Donovan, Sharon M. (2019) “Effectiveness of Workplace Lactation Interventions on Breastfeeding Outcomes in the United States: An Updated Systematic Review,” 35 J. of Human Lactation 100–13.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kokkonen, Andrej & Karlsson, David (2017) “That's What Friends Are for: How Intergroup Friendships Promote Historically Disadvantaged Groups’ Substantive Political Representation,” 68 British J. of Sociology 693717.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kozhimannil, Katy B., et al. (2016) “Access to Workplace Accommodations to Support Breastfeeding after Passage of the Affordable Care Act,” 26 Women's Health Issues 613.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1969) The Elementary Structures of Kinship. New York: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
Lynch, Mona & Haney, Carol (2011) “Mapping the Racial Bias of the White Male Capital Juror: Jury Composition and the ‘Empathic Divide’,” 45 Law & Society Rev. 69102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Madeira, Jody Lynee (2006a) “Lashing Reason to the Mast: Understanding Judicial Constraints on Emotion in Personal Injury Litigation,” 40 UC Davis Law Rev. 137–97.Google Scholar
Madeira, Jody Lynee (2006b) “Recognizing Odysseus' Scar: Reconceptualizing Pain and Its Empathic Role in Civil Adjudication,” 34 Florida State Univ. Law Rev. 4197.Google Scholar
McAdams, Richard H. (2017) The Expressive Powers of Law: Theories and Limits. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.Google Scholar
McCann, Michael W. (1994) Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal Mobilization. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
McKinley, Mary Nita & Hyde, Janet Shibley (2004) “Personal Attitudes or Structural Factors? A Contextual Analysis of Breastfeeding Duration,” 28 Psychology of Women Q. 388–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moyer, Laura P. & Haire, Susan B. (2015) “Trailblazers and Those that Followed: Personal Experiences, Gender, and Judicial Empathy,” 49 Law & Society Rev. 665–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mun, Eunmi & Brinton, Mary C. (2015) “Workplace Matters: The Use of Parental Leave Policy in Japan,” 42 Work and Occupation 335–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nielsen, Mathias Wullum (2017) “Scandinavian Approaches to Gender Equality in Academia: A Comparative Study,” 61 Scandinavian J. of Educational Research 295318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ortiz, Joan, McGilligan, Kathryn, & Kelly, Patricia (2004) “Duration of Breast Milk Expression among Working Mothers Enrolled in an Employer-Sponsored Lactation Program,” 30 Pediatric Nursing 111–19.Google Scholar
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148 (2010).Google Scholar
Plumm, Karyn M. & Terrance, Cheryl A. (2009) “Battered Women Who Kill: The Impact of Expert Testimony and Empathy Induction in the Courtroom,” 15 Violence Against Women 186205.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Polkinghorne, Donald E. (2005) “Language and Meaning: Data Collection in Qualitative Research,” 52 J. of Counseling Psychology 137–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rao, Hayagreeva, Morrill, Calvin, & Zald, Mayer N. (2000) “Power Plays: How Social Movements and Collective Action Create New Organizational Forms,” 22 Research in Organizational Behavior 237–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reason, Robert Dean, Roosa Millar, Elizabeth A., & Scales, Tara (2005) “Toward a Model of Racial Justice Ally Development,” 46 J. of College Student Development 530–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Russell, Glenda M. (2011) “Motives of Heterosexual Allies in Collective Action for Equality,” 67 The J. of Social Issues 376–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scott, William Richard & Davis, Gerald F. (2007) Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives. New York: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
Selznick, Philip (1949) TVA and the Grassroots: A Study of Politics and Organization. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.Google Scholar
Stotzer, Rebecca L. (2009) “Straight Allies: Supportive Attitudes toward Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in a College Sample,” 60 Sex Roles 6780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stryker, Robin (2007) “Half Empty, Half Full, or Neither: Law, Inequality, and Social Change in Capitalist Democracies,” 3 Annual Rev. of Law & Social Science 6997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Suchman, Mark C. & Edelman, Lauren B. (1996) “Legal Rational Myths: The New Institutionalism and the Law and Society Tradition,” 21 Law & Social Inquiry 903–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trautner, Mary Nell, Hatton, Erin, & Smith, Kelly E. (2013) “What Workers Want Depends: Legal Knowledge and the Desire for Workplace Change among Day Laborers,” 35 Law & Policy 319–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Waldfogel, Jane (1998) “Understanding the 'Family Gap' in Pay for Women and Children,” 12 J. of Economic Perspectives 137–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wijen, Frank & Ansa, Shahzad (2016) “Overcoming Inaction through Collective Institutional Entrepreneurship: Insights from Regime Theory,” 28 Organization Studies 1079–100.Google Scholar
Williams, Joan C. (2000) Unbending Gender: Why Work and Family Conflict and What to Do About It. Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
Yonker, Scott E. (2017) “Do Managers Give Hometown Labor an Edge?30 The Rev. of Financial Studies 3581–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar