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Failure to Update: An Institutional Perspective on Noncompliance With the Family and Medical Leave Act

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At least one-quarter of covered workplaces violated the parental leave requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) when surveyed in 1997. What explains this noncompliance? Using a survey of 389 U.S. workplaces and qualitative interviews with managers in 40 organizations, I demonstrate that noncompliance comes in distinct forms. Some forms of noncompliance result from a failure to update institutionalized—and gendered—policies, practices, and norms. This form of noncompliance (indicated by illegally short leaves) is better explained by the institutional perspective, while outright noncompliance (as evidenced by a lack of leaves) is best explained by rational choice and deviant culture theories.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Minnesota

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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