A new lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court asserts that our
state's workers' compensation system discriminates against women. As
CBS Los Angeles reports, the suit contends that medical evaluators and guidelines rely
on stereotypes that diminish the gravity of female worker injuries, resulting
in fewer benefits.
The suit, which is seeking class-action status, was filed by a group of
women and a labor union. One of the women is Sgt. Janice Page, a law enforcement
officer who developed breast cancer due to her exposure to ammunition,
narcotics, and fires. Despite the medical evaluator's finding and
a resulting mastectomy, Page did not receive a permanent disability status
with her workers' comp claim.
"The loss of my breast has been devastating," Page said in a
press release. "I carry the same weight on my duty belt as my male
colleagues, confront the same dangers, work just as hard, and it is not
fair for me and my female peace officers to be penalized because of our
For comparison's sake, the U.S. Veterans Administration dictates that
mastectomies be classified with a 30 to 80 percent disability rating.
The American Medical Association finds that male employees who have their
prostate removed due to cancer should receive a 16 to 20 percent impairment
rating, as well.
The suit also details the experience of a female telecommunications worker
that, after developing carpal tunnel, was given fewer benefits than male
counterparts due to "risk factors" inherent to her age and sex.
Earlier this year, an Assembly committee found that this process of reducing
workers' compensation benefits based on these risk factors (called
"apportionment") could affect roughly 11,000 women workers'
comp claimants a year.
"By permitting and condoning the distribution of workers’ compensation
benefits on the basis of sex, the State of California sends a clear message
that women’s work is worth less," the suit states and says
that it is up to state officials to correct the imbalance. No damages
are being sought.
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to fight for workers' compensation benefits you deserve. At the
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