Bill Text: CA SB899 | 2017-2018 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Workers’ compensation.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-04-13 - Set for hearing April 25. [SB899 Detail]

Download: California-2017-SB899-Amended.html

Amended  IN  Senate  March 07, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 899


Introduced by Senator Bradford

January 16, 2018


An act to amend Section 115 of add Section 4665 to the Labor Code, relating to workers’ compensation.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 899, as amended, Bradford. Workers’ compensation.
Existing law establishes a workers’ compensation system, administered by the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, to compensate an employee for injuries sustained in the course of his or her employment.
Existing law makes an employer liable only for the percentage of permanent disability directly caused by the injury arising out of and occurring in the course of employment. Existing law also requires that apportionment of permanent disability be based on causation and requires a physician who prepares a report addressing the issue of permanent disability due to a claimed industrial injury to address in that report the issue of causation of the permanent disability.
In City of Jackson v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 109, the court of appeal found that the law governing apportionment of disability permits the determination of causation to include “heritability and genetics,” which may result in the reduction of an individual worker’s benefits due to his or her heredity or genetic makeup.
This bill would set forth a statement of legislative findings and declarations stating, among other things, that the City of Jackson decision is an abhorrent decision that violates legal norms, undermines legislative intent, and abuses the dignity of injured workers. The bill would express the intent of the Legislature to abrogate the decision and affirm prior decisions prohibiting apportionment of disability to immutable factors. The bill would also express the intent of the Legislature that these provisions do not prohibit apportionment of disability to specific identifiable factors.

Existing law establishes a workers’ compensation system to compensate an employee for injuries sustained in the course of his or her employment. Under this system, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board has jurisdiction to determine these claims. Existing law provides that actions of the board are taken by a decision of a majority of the board, except as provided.

This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to that provision.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 4665 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

4665.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) In City of Jackson v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 109 (hereafter City of Jackson), the court of appeal found that the law governing apportionment of disability permits the determination of causation to include “heritability and genetics,” which may result in the reduction of an individual worker’s benefits due to his or her heredity or genetic makeup. In contrast, a prior decision in Rice v. City of Jackson (2015) 2015 WL 575174 (Cal. W.C.A.B.) (hereafter Rice) prohibited apportionment of disability to immutable factors while also referring to “proper apportionment” of disability to “specific identifiable factors.”
(b) The City of Jackson decision effectively legalizes discrimination on the basis of genetics and heritability, including race, gender, and religion, creating disparate impacts in the form of reduced permanent disability benefits to injured workers.
(c) The Legislature has consistently prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, and genetics in employment and governmental benefits.
(d) The City of Jackson decision is an abhorrent decision that violates legal norms, undermines legislative intent, and abuses the dignity of injured workers.
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this subdivision to abrogate the decision in City of Jackson and to affirm prior administrative and judicial decisions, including Rice, prohibiting apportionment of disability to immutable factors. It is also the intent of the Legislature that this subdivision does not prohibit apportionment of disability to specific identifiable factors.

SECTION 1.Section 115 of the Labor Code is amended to read:
115.

(a)Actions of the appeals board shall be taken by decision of a majority of the appeals board, except as otherwise expressly provided.

(b)The chairman shall assign pending cases in which reconsideration is sought to any three members thereof for hearing, consideration, and decision. Assignments by the chairman of members to those cases shall be rotated on a case-by-case basis and the composition of the members assigned shall be varied and changed to ensure that there shall never be a fixed and continued composition of members. Any case assigned to any three members in which the finding, order, decision, or award is made and filed by any two or more of those members shall be deemed the action of the appeals board, unless reconsideration is made in accordance with Article 1 (commencing with Section 5900) of Chapter 7 of Part 4 of Division 4. Any case assigned to three members shall be heard and decided only by them, unless the matter has been reassigned by the chairman on a majority vote of the appeals board to the appeals board as a whole in order to achieve uniformity of decision, or in cases presenting novel issues.

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