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Jennifer Shinall

Professor of Law

Expert in discrimination, particularly in the areas of gender and disability.


Jennifer Bennett Shinall’s research focuses on discrimination, particularly in the areas of gender and disability. Her research, which has been published in peer-reviewed economic journals and law journals, examines how obesity, pregnancy and health status more generally affect labor market outcomes. Her work 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, 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. Shinall teaches Employment Discrimination Law and Employment Law to J.D. students and also teaches Labor Markets and Human Resources and the Ph.D. Workshop for the Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics.

Media Appearances

  • HR Departments Are Scrambling Over Abortion Travel Policies

    In late June, the largest professional human-resources organization in the country, SHRM, published an advisory on its website addressing best practices when it comes to managing abortion benefits; along with travel and tax issues, the notice addressed those liability risks. In states like Texas, where individuals are permitted to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion after six weeks, an attorney predicted future litigation that might impact a firm offering benefits like these. Jennifer Shinall, a law professor specializing in labor and gender at Vanderbilt, expects to see laws specifically targeting these corporate-sponsored programs. In her home state of Tennessee, she says, “I very much expect for there to be a law that tries to penalize corporations” paying for abortion-related travel. At the very least, she would expect a prohibitively expensive fine.

    July 11th, 2022

  • Thinking of permanently ditching the office? Here’s what to consider before going fully remote.

    Jennifer Shinall, professor of law at Vanderbilt University, says workers should also be upfront and ask whether there are any noncompete, nondisclosure or nonsolicitation agreements and for the terms.

    January 27th, 2022

  • 1.97 million Tennesseans potentially affected by President's COVID-19 vaccine mandate

    According to Vanderbilt Law Professor Jennifer Shinall, employers who willingly follow this mandate should feel protected. "I think employers have such a compelling reason to mandate these vaccines because they want to stay open, because they want to protect themselves from liability and COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace," Shinall said.

    September 14th, 2021

  • Can you report your employer for not following the new US vaccine rules?

    To be sure, since the text of the temporary emergency standard that Biden is proposing is not yet available, businesses, lawyers, and legal scholars can only speculate as to how the rule will be enforced, says Vanderbilt University law professor Jennifer Shinall. The White House has only said that companies that disregard the rule could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. However, there is no national registry for vaccination, as Shinall notes, so how would the government keep track of which companies are in compliance?

    September 11th, 2021

  • 'Have at it,' Biden says to Republicans who've threatened to challenge vaccine mandates.

    “As long as there are provisions for workers not healthy enough to get the vaccine and probably to some extent religious accommodations,” said Jennifer Shinall, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, “I think that the legal challenges fail.”

    September 10th, 2021

  • Republicans rail against Biden’s sweeping vaccine plan, with one warning of ‘full on revolt’

    Jennifer Shinall, a professor of employment law at Vanderbilt University, told Forbes legal challenges against the orders are “likely to fail” given the strong legal precedent for the mandate for federal workers and the power of the federal government to control where its funds go.

    September 9th, 2021

  • Delta Takes Tough But Legal Stance in Vaccine Plan, Lawyers Say

    Employers would need a documented accommodation plan for workers who can’t get vaccinated because of health conditions to avoid ADA liability, said Jennifer Bennett Shinall, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who focuses on disability and discrimination. Similar accommodations could be necessary for religious objections under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, though employers have much more leeway to override those concerns compared to health-related reasons for not getting vaccinated, she said.

    August 26th, 2021

  • Fact check: Workers fired for refusing a vaccine are unlikely to qualify for unemployment

    Jennifer Shinall, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University, said employees are usually barred from getting unemployment benefits if they quit or if the employer had cause for termination. "But every state defines what ‘cause’ is a little bit differently," Shinall said. "Some states have more guidance than others, and the COVID vaccine itself is relatively new, so certainly these employer mandates are very new.”

    August 9th, 2021

  • Why 'stay-at-home parent' is a job title

    "A lot of women end up dropping out of the labour market after giving birth to a child because they don't have any leave entitlements and the childcare prospects are not good," said Jennifer Bennett Shinall, a law and economics professor at Vanderbilt University.

    April 14th, 2021

  • Can you be fired over your sex life? Dave Ramsey thinks so.

    Jennifer Bennett Shinall, a Vanderbilt University law school professor who focuses on discrimination, including the areas of gender and pregnancy, said she's curious how the company investigates its employees' sex lives in a way that isn't biased against women, who, because of their possible ability to get pregnant, can't as easily hide their sex lives.

    March 28th, 2021


Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

J.D., Vanderbilt University

A.B., Harvard University


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