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 gender."
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.
If you are a worker that has been hurt on the job, you may find it necessary to fight for workers' compensation benefits you deserve. At the Law Offices of Wax & Wax, our award-winning Glendale workers' compensation lawyers have helped countless clients assert the gravity of their injury and receive the relief they've needed after their accident.
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