Workers’ Compensation and Gender In the News
July 14, 2016
The California Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker said that current claims of gender discrimination in the workers’ compensation system are unfounded and may undermine successful reforms. A recent class action lawsuit alleges gender discrimination, but Director Baker says these claims are without merit.
The question of gender discrimination in workers’ compensation is a hot topic in the Legislature. AB 1643 (Gonzalez) would prohibit apportionment of workers’ compensation benefits from being based on pregnancy, menopause, osteoporosis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or for a psychiatric injury occurring from disability or impairment caused by any of these conditions. This change represents a significant shift away from the current objective and uniform approach to establishing disability in the workers’ compensation system.
CSAC, along with a large coalition of partners, strongly opposes AB 1643 bill. California’s workers’ compensation system currently uses the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines for determining impairment as the basis for establishing permanent disability awards. This standard offers an objective, peer-reviewed, and nationally recognized methodology for this measurement. The current codes create a system of apportioning disability that relies on causation, so that employers pay for disabilities that are the result of industrial injuries, but are not responsible for disabilities not directly caused by an injury arising out of and occurring in the course of employment. Shifting that balance when there is no evidence of gender discrimination is extremely problematic and could result in unfair outcomes in the workers’ compensation system.