It is no secret in the employment arena that females are often discriminated against in terms of pay, benefits and other ways. But the California legislature just passed a law that is designed to protect women from discrimination in some situations involving workers’ compensation that have traditionally had them at a disadvantage just because of their gender.
Under the workers’ compensation system, an employee who files a claim must undergo examination by a doctor who then must identify the disability and the cause, i.e., whether it is work-related. The doctor must then give an apportionment percentage to what work-related injury or illness caused the disability as opposed to other factors such as pre-existing conditions.
Historically, this apportionment rating has discriminated against females because the “other” factors include pre-existing conditions that typically only a woman could have. These include pregnancy, menopause, breast cancer and osteoporosis. In the opinion of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, this in essence makes being female a pre-existing condition since males’ illnesses and injuries could not be apportioned in this way.
In conjunction with her introduction of the bill, the California Applicants Attorney Association issued a press release citing situations in which the current apportionment system has been discriminatory against women. Some of these included:
- A doctor for a vocational nurse recommended a deduction of benefits for her because lower back, shoulder and hand injuries were due to “generally accepted conditions, such as gender”;
- A doctor deducted half of the permanent disability benefit for carpal tunnel syndrome due to “nonindustrial predisposing factors such as female gender [and] postmenopausal status”; and
- An Agreed Medical Evaluator apportioned 98 percent of a housekeeper’s permanent disability to “conditions related to child birth…[M]any women are predisposed to these problems…” The woman was unable to work again but was only awarded 2 percent of her permanent disability benefits.
These are just of a few of the examples that the law is designed to rectify. It also addresses the apportionment of psychiatric impairment caused by any of the previously mentioned conditions as well as from sexual harassment. In addition, it requires that breast cancer has at least the same minimum disability rating as prostate cancer when those diseases are caused by work-related injuries.
If you are a woman who has been discriminated against in an award of workers’ compensation benefits, an experienced and reputable personal injury attorney in Beverly Hills who specializes in workers’ compensation cases can help you in recovering all the benefits you deserve. For further information or to schedule an appointment with Michael Lavaee of Lavaee Law Group please contact us at 310.331.8484 or visit www.LavaeeGroup.com.
Secondary Source: “Bill Targets Workers’ Compensation Insurance Gender Bias,” Mar. 4, 2015