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A Class by HerselfProtective Laws for Women Workers, 1890s-1990s$
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Nancy Woloch

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691002590

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691002590.001.0001

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(p.261) Conclusion
A Class by Herself

Nancy Woloch

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter examines the nature of protective law, the crucial historical issue of overtime, and public policy after the dismantling of women-only protective laws. Over the course of a century, protective laws for women workers left a double imprint on U.S. history. The laws set precedents that led to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and to modern labor law; they also sustained classification by sex, a tradition of gendered law that abridged citizenship, impeded equality, and endured until late in the century. One variable facet of the protective agenda was the interplay between women-only protective laws and “general” wage-and-hours law that affected men. The long history of overtime, its role in shaping gendered law, and its ramifications over time suggests both the unstable nature of protective law and the unpredictability of its consequences.

Keywords:   protective law, overtime, public policy, women-only protective laws, Fair Labor Standards Act, modern labor law, gendered law, protective agenda, women workers

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