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Naomi T. Schoenbaum Faculty Member


  • Associate Professor of Law, LAW , Law 2012 -
I have made two key contributions in my research. The first contribution has been a series of projects focusing on the significance of intimate relationships at work and the consequences for the regulation of the workplace and beyond. The contribution is to the scholarly fields of labor law, employment law, antidiscrimination law, and family law. My scholarship identifies an important phenomenon that creates a jumping off point for other scholars to continue to explore this theme, and I have been extending the application to sharing economy, where I have seen a significant impact, given both the new nature of the field and the special importance of intimacy in it. I have heard from scholars who have learned of my research from its appearance on Legal Theory Blog that it has changed the way they think about the subject. A review praising my piece, Towards a Law of Coworkers, in Jotwell, confirms this influence, nothing that “[o]ne of the things that makes this thought-provoking article so interesting . . . is how clearly Schoenbaum explains exactly how employment law undermines coworker bonds and exactly why that is a bad thing. . . . Ultimately, Toward a Law of Coworkers made me revisit an issue I’ve thought about before and inspired me to think about approaches I had not fully considered before.” My research also has practical applications for law reform and legal activism, as I have seen from the Service Employees International Union to the American Constitution Society to the World Bank. And my research has had an international impact, as I have presented this work in Spain, Israel, and Norway, and have been consulted on how this research applies around the world. The second key contribution of my research is looking at core questions in sex discrimination law. I have considered, among other questions, the application of sex discrimination law to transgender rights and its shortcomings, whether sex discrimination law is consistent across the domains to which it applies (including pregnancy and breastfeeding), the benefits of symmetrically protecting against sex discrimination, and the impact of new understandings of sex under state law on the constitutional law of sex equality. Here, too, I expect that my work will have an impact on law and policy, as my work on unsexing pregnancy received media coverage suggesting it as a basis for public policy. I expect to do more to promote my work in this light as well as get involved in litigation based on this work when my personal circumstances allow. As for teaching, I have given an effective introduction to the law for my first-year torts students, and have pushed them to develop their analytical skills and consider all sides of an issue, teaching them how to integrate different types of arguments into their legal analysis. For my employment law students, I have given my students an introduction into a field of law, while also continuing to develop their analytical skills, and teaching them how to integrate policy analysis into litigation arguments. For my work, family, and gender students, I have created a unique space for students to engage in lively discussions while addressing critical and timely issues related to work, family, and gender. I have also given these students the opportunity to engage more deeply in a topic of interest, considering how law and policy shape a particular area of life and how it might do so differently. By writing and presenting their research papers, the students get substantial individual feedback from me at multiple points through the course, and also get a chance to give and receive feedback to and from their classmates. My key contribution to service has been to the development of the intellectual life of the law school. I created a brown bag lunch series that allows colleagues to gather informally to discuss current scholarly events. (This has been on hold due to sabbatical, leave, and now lack of childcare, but I hope to restart the series, either in person or virtually, when childcare returns to normal.) I regularly present my own work at faculty workshops. I participate in law school workshops and job talks and provide feedback to outside speakers and to my colleagues on their work. I have spoken about my research to students this year. And I have also contributed to the intellectual life by serving on the Appointments Committee this year, a year which required very substantial time commitments.

Research Areas

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