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Workplace Safety

Stereotypes and Workers Compensation

By August 1, 2016No Comments

1608-wc-2Even though women have been in the workforce for many years, there are many that claim the workers comp system is biased against them. There’s a lawsuit happening in California right now that states women’s rights are not being properly acknowledged as defined by the Equal Opportunity Employment Act, and we’ll look at some of the claims so you have a better idea of how gender works in the world of workers comp.

Male Doctors, Male Opinions

When the vast majority of practitioners determining a woman’s condition are male, people claim that women can’t receive fair treatment when it comes to truly diagnosing their level of disability. This is a class-action suit which includes a woman who has breast cancer which she was found to be caused by her two and a half decades serving in law enforcement. During that time, she came up against hazards like narcotics and other toxins while on the job. After she had her breast removed, she had applied to be put on permanent disability but her claim was denied. Her doctor had verified her breast cancer was caused by unsafe working conditions, but through a guide used by the AMA in California, it was determined that this did not qualify for permanent disability. She continues to work in her job, but her lawyer states that she has multiple physical and emotional problems due to her cancer. Her duties remain essentially unchanged after undergoing surgery. In contrast, if a man has his prostate removed, then they could be classified as being up to 20% impaired (meaning that they would at least have accommodation made for them, if not placed on perm disability.) The AMA guide also diverges from the VA, which classifies someone who has had a mastectomy at up to 80% impaired.

Tips for You

If you’ve followed workers comp (or the world) at all, you already know that inconsistencies are part of the deal. People view situations very differently, which leaves the law wide open. In this case, it’s clear that those who have filed against the policies want a reevaluation of how women are treated so that they may work safely and be compensated fairly should something happen. If you employ women, it’s helpful to be aware of gender difference, but that doesn’t mean you have to obsess about them. If you’re using your own sound sense of judgment, you’ll likely be fine, but we caution you against stereotypes. No matter what state you live in, this California suit will likely affect you as more people may start to see cases of discrimination in front of them. Whether that’s based in fact or not will be determined by the courts.