California rejects Workers Comp bill to end gender bias

California has been one of the leading states in combating gender bias for years but with the recent rejection of proposition AB305 by Governor Jerry Brown has our Workers Compensation system in California taken a step back?

A bill designated to exclude a loophole that specifically affects women injured at work would have eliminated pregnancy and menopause and other gender related characteristics from the so called “pre-existing conditions” at the time of determining a workers compensation claim.

Although, the California Workers compensation law forbids work injury claims to be denied based on a person’s gender, age, religion or any other personal characteristics this doesn’t stop the Workers Compensation insurance from exploiting this loophole by citing the so called “pre-existing conditions” that exclusively affects the female worker. For instance, a back injury on a pregnant woman is deemed less compensable than if the same injury happened to her male co-worker. |

According to Assembly woman Lorena Gonzales a strong supporter of the proposed bill believes that the governor is dead wrong on this issue. This bill would have eliminated the gender bias against female employees under the current workers Compensation system that under the current law, forces the treating doctor to include in his report an apportionment of the percentage proximity of the disability caused by work activities versus other factors. One of these factors being so called “pre-existing conditions” which often screws the female workers.

This bill would have also prohibited psychiatric disability or impairment cause by any of those conditions, or by contemporaneous instance of sexual harassment, from being considered when apportioning a work injury. Furthermore, AB 305 would have prohibited from breast cancer caused from work to receive a lower workers compensation rating than a male’s prostate cancer.