Gender Inequality Workers’ Compensation Benefits

January 20, 2017

There is no secret about the fact that there is rampant employment discrimination in the hiring, promotion and pay for women, but most people probably did not know that discrimination against women also extends to workers’ compensation benefits. A group of women in California have filed a class-action that alleges reduced workers’ compensation benefits are paid to women in California purely because of their gender. The intention of the lawsuit is to rid the workers’ compensation system in California of gender discrimination by prohibiting the use of gender as a factor in determining workers’ compensation awards, and the implementation of a training program on gender bias for medical examiners.

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced a bill (AB 1643) that would end discriminatory practices in California’s workers’ compensation system that penalize women for being women that was approved in the spring of 2016. The bill would have equalized the impairment rating for injuries resulting from work-related breast cancer to the rating for prostate cancer. It also would have prevented doctors from taking impairments from female-related health conditions such as pregnancy, menopause, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or psychiatric disability into consideration when making apportionment decisions for injury settlements. However, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill in September.

Gonzalez says that while the current workers’ compensation law in California prohibits claims from being denied because of an employee’s gender, age, religion or several other characteristics, a loophole in the system allows medical examiners to discriminate by citing “pre-existing conditions” that exclusively or predominantly affect women. The result of this discrimination is that female workers receive less compensation for the same injury than a male worker would receive.

The women in the lawsuit, Page et. al. v. Parisotto et. al., allege that the discrimination against women in the workers’ compensation system is a, “direct result of policies and practices permitted and condoned” by the State of California.

While this lawsuit will only affect Californians, Pennsylvania women should be aware that this type of gender discrimination exists and it could be happening in other places as well.

If you suffered an injury in the workplace and you are getting ready to file a workers’ compensation claim, you may want to speak to one of our trusted Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. We fight for fair compensation when you have been injured or suffer from an occupational illness at work. Please feel free to call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your case today. We proudly serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.