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Jennifer Bennett Shinall

Professor of Law

Jennifer Bennett Shinall’s research focuses on discrimination, particularly in the areas of gender and disability. Her research examines how obesity, pregnancy and health status more generally affect labor market outcomes. Her research further considers how these effects may differ by gender, and how the legal system can address any observed disparities. Professor Shinall was the first graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics at Vanderbilt University. Before returning to Vanderbilt as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Law and Economics in 2013, Professor Shinall was a clerk for Judge John Tinder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She earned an A.B. in economics and history at Harvard University and her J.D. and Ph.D. in law and economics at Vanderbilt Law School, where she served as senior articles editor for Vanderbilt Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Professor Shinall teaches Employment Discrimination Law and Employment Law to J.D. students. She also teaches Labor Markets and Human Resources and the Ph.D. Workshop for the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics.

Recent Presentations

Without Accommodation, Law and Economics Virtual Series (February 2021)

Without Accommodation, Association of American Law Schools, Disability and Intersectionality Panel (January 2021)

Protecting Pregnancy, Southern Economics Association Annual Meeting (November 2020)

Without Accommodation, Michigan Law and Economics Workshop (November 2020)

Individual and Population Health, Obesity Week (November 2020)

Protecting Pregnancy, American Law and Economics Association Annual Meeting (scheduled November 2020, cancelled due to COVID-19)

Becoming Visible, Oklahoma Law Review COVID and Privacy Symposium (October 2020)

Without Accommodation, Colloquium on Scholarship in Employment and Labor Law (October 2020)

Leave in the Time of COVID: Insight from Paid Sick Leave Laws, University of Louisville Law Review Labor and Employment Law Symposium (October 2020)

Protecting Pregnancy, Tallahassee Women Lawyers CLE (October 2020)

Without Accommodation, Disability Works-in-Progress Workshop (June 2020)

Protecting Pregnancy, George Mason School of Law, Law and Economics Workshop (April 2020)

Protecting Pregnancy, Faculty Workshop, Vanderbilt Law School (April 2020)



"Protecting Pregnancy," 106 Cornell Law Review (forthcoming 2021)

"Identifying Meaningful Eating Behavior and Physical Activity Questions for Individual and Population Health" (with Kelly Haws, et al.) Clinical Obesity (January 2021) 

"Development of Brief Child Nutrition and Physical Activity Screening Questions for EHR Use" (with Mikaela H. Sullivan, et al.), 16 Clinical Obesity 488 (October 2020) 

"When Equitable is Not Equal: Experimental Evidence on the Division of Marital Assets in Divorce" (with Joni Hersch), 18 Review of Economics of the Household 655 (May 2020)

"Estimating Years of Education Using the Current Population Survey after 2014" (with Joni Hersch and Fernando Mendoza Lopez), 190 Economics Letters (April 2020)

"Anticipating Accommodation," 105 Iowa Law Review 621 (January 2020)

"Settling in the Shadow of Sex: Gender Bias in Marital Asset Division," 40 Cardozo Law Review 1857 (May 2019)

"The Pregnancy Penalty," 103 Minnesota Law Review 749 (December 2018)

"Imputation Match Bias in Immigrant Wage Convergence"(with Joni Hersch), 55 Demography 1475 (August 2018)

"The Substantially Impaired Sex: Uncovering the Gendered Nature of Disability Discrimination," 101 Minnesota Law Review 1099 (February 2017)

"Something to Talk About: Information Exchange under Employment Law" (with Joni Hersch), 165 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 49 (December 2016)

"Less Is More: Procedural Efficacy in Vindicating Civil Rights," 68 Alabama Law Review 49 (November 2016)

"Unfulfilled Promises: Discrimination and the Denial of Essential Health Benefits Under the Affordable Care Act," 65 DePaul Law Review 1235 (Summer 2016)

"Distaste or Disability? Evaluating the Legal Framework for Protecting Obese Workers," 37 Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law 101 (February 2016)

"What Happens When the Definition of Disability Changes? The Case of Obesity," 5 IZA Journal of Labor Economics 1 (January 2016)

"Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (with Joni Hersch), 34 J. Policy Analysis & Management 424 (February 2015)




615-343-9622 (voice)
615-322-6691 (fax)
Law School Room 296 (office)

Curriculum Vitae
Vanderbilt Law School Profile 

Jennifer Bennett Shinall at SSRN

Selected Works

In the News

Professor Shinall’s paper “Protecting Pregnancy,” was featured in Eric Bachman’s article in Forbes, titled “Which Employment Law/Policies Actually Help Pregnant Workers?”

Naomi Cahn highlighted research by Jennifer Bennett Shinall and Joni Hersch in her article in Forbes,  “What Should Stay-at-Home Moms Get at Divorce?”  This research was from Shinall’s article “When Equitable is Not Equal: Experimental Evidence on the Division of Marital Assets in Divorce,” co-authored with Joni Hersch.

MarketWatch: How stay-at-home moms can get credit for diaper changes on their résumés
A New York City ad agency has invented a fictional company called The Pregnancy Pause — complete with logo, website and phone number — that women can list on their résumés as their “employer” during the time they spend away from work raising kids. Women who have a résumé gap and don’t explain it are far less likely to get hired than those who do explain the gap, according to a study co-authored by Jennifer Bennett Shinall, assistant professor of law, and Joni Hersch, professor of law and economics. Shinall is quoted in the article.

Professor Shinall's paper, "Something to Talk About: Information Exchange Under Employment Law," coauthored with Joni Hersch, was featured in the New York Times article, "A Child Care Gap in the Résumé: Whether to Explain or Not." The paper, which is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, examines information exchange in the hiring process. 

Their research on this topic has received international media attention. [Featured at Research News @Vanderbilt] [Read at Bloomberg] [Read at Slate] [Listen at NPR On Point] [Read at Motto] [Read at The Economic Times] [Read at DailyMail.Co.UK] [Read at Business Standard] [Read at] [Read at] [Read at Glamour] [Read at Marie Claire]

A recent study, authored by Professor Shinall, reports that overweight and obese women are more likely to work in the most labor intensive, lowest paying jobs. Her research has received national media attention. [Read at] [Watch at The Wall Street Journal] [Read at The Huffington Post] [Read at National Geographic] [Read at The Washington Post] [Listen at NPR] [Read at Forbes] [Read at The Guardian] [Read at Glamour] [Read at Futurity] [Read at Think Progress]

Read Professor Shinall's paper on the topic, "Why Obese Workers Earn Less: Occupational Sorting and Its Implications for the Legal System."

Professor Shinall's research on overweight women in the labor market and the female wage penalty for obese women is featured in Research News @ VU

Professor Shinall is featured in Research News @ VU as a new faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School. The article also highlights her research on obesity and workplace discrimination.

Professor Shinall was invited to participate in the Law and Society Association's Early Career Workshop in May 2014. The workshop encourages new faculty to move their research and writing toward law-and-society topics, and to further develop their awareness of the field and the scholars working in those areas.