Speaking Out For Injured Workers' Rights
Attorneys Adam Dombchik and Jill Singer of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK) participated recently in the California Applicants' Attorneys Association's (CAAA) Annual Lobby Day in Sacramento. CAAA is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and advocates for injured workers' rights throughout California. Dombchik is a past president of the association and serves on the Legislative Committee. Singer is the Central Coast Chapter president of the association.
They travelled to the state's capital to discuss workers' compensation issues, including four pending bills that are aimed at improving the delivery of workers' compensation benefits to injured workers.
Assembly Bill 305 (Gonzalez) addresses gender bias in workers' compensation, which stems from the deduction of permanent disability compensation based on female-specific, gender-based conditions. This bill will bar the use of breast cancer, menopause, osteoporosis or pregnancy as a basis of apportionment for permanent disability benefits. It further bars apportioning psychiatric injuries that are a consequence of sexual harassment. Presently, this bill is supported by the California Professional Firefighters and the California Nurses Association.
Senate Bill 623 (Lara) is intended to eliminate discrimination against immigrants in the workers' compensation system. It is meant to repeal a Pete Wilson-era regulation baring undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits from two specific funds, the Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust Fund and/or the Subsequent Injury Benefit Trust Fund. Undocumented immigrants are entitled to receive other Workers' Compensation benefits in the California State Workers' Compensation System, and a repeal of this law will allow them access to these last two remaining benefits.
Assembly Bill 438 (Chiu). Injured workers cannot get the benefits they deserve if they cannot read the information sent to them, or when they go online. The workers must apply for temporary and permanent disability compensation within specific, limited time periods. Notices of these requirements are often not in a language they understand, so they may not apply in time. This bill will require that the Department of Industrial Relations, the Division of Workers' Compensation, and State Compensation Insurance Fund translate all workers' compensation notices and information into the top five languages spoken by California workers.
Assembly Bill 686 (Daly). The overwhelming majority of injured workers, attorneys, doctors and insurers in the workers' compensation system play by the rules. A small group, however, don't, and there needs to be consequences for those who break the law. One problem in workers' compensation is soliciting and signing up injured workers who do not have a legitimate claim. It is called "running and capping." It is already a crime for lawyers to participate in these schemes. This bill will make it a crime for non lawyers to engage in "running and capping" in Workers' Compensation for an attorney or any other person.
In addition to these four bills there are approximately 60 other labor and employment-related bills as well as other Workers' Compensation bills that have been introduced into this legislative session. The session runs through the end of August 2015. There will be amendments, hearings and votes on these bills in the State Capitol.
GEK remains engaged and involved in monitoring these bills and advocating for legislation that supports employees and injured workers' rights. GEK attorneys have always, and will continue to, speak out against legislation that compromises workers' rights.
If you have any questions about this pending legislation or would like to learn more about your legal options pertaining to a workers' compensation, personal injury or Social Security Disability matter, feel free to contact GEK at 213-739-7000.