Workers Comp Zone


A “Workers’ Comp Briefing” e-mail from the California Applicants Attorneys Association caught my eye this morning.

Titled “Who’s Counting”, the e-mail says this:

“For decades, Workers’ Compensation debates have been dominated by “data”… individual injured workers’ experiences have been routinely dismissed as “anecdotal.”

The data has been routinely provided by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Research Bureau (the insurance companies) or Rand (connected to employers and insurers). Data is always interpreted by who does the counting.

The Senate Labor Committee has jurisdiction over Workers’ Comp issues. The committee is Chaired by Senator Dave Cortese (D. San Jose). Last week, Senator Cortese approached CAAA with a request… he wants to author legislation to collect and interpret data on how the system is rigged against women, women of color, and older women. 

More significantly, Senator Cortese wants the research done by one of the University of California’s prestigious Labor Centers… who’s counting matters.

And most significantly, Senator Cortese has asked CAAA to sponsor the bill and partner with him… the first time in anyone’s memory that a consequential legislator has ever done so.

Senator Cortese has 10 more years before he is termed out. This unprecedented partnership will lead to the truth… truth that will change the lives of women who get hurt at work. We don’t know how many… but we do know each woman will be counted and none of them will be dismissed as an “anecdote.”

I’m all for such a study, and one of the UC Labor Centers could be a fine candidate to do such a study. While the workers’ comp system operates in the context of the larger California economy, if there are structural things in the California workers’ comp system itself that are rigged against women or various groups, we should endeavor to fix them.

In the past we’ve seen debates over certain ratings for women, controversies over apportionment to genetics as applied to certain racial groups or genders, and debate over apportionment to aging.

A comprehensive study might address the scope of some of those issues and identify other workers’ comp specific problems that unfairly and unnecessarily burden women, minority groups, older workers, etc.

Stay tuned as we see how this legislative session develops.

Julius Young