Today marks the start of Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the heroic women who’ve pushed boundaries to champion female empowerment, gender equity and equality. While great strides have been made, gender bias and discrimination are still prevalent, including in workers’ compensation.
It pains us to say that many in the community still utter the phrase “workman’s comp.”
As for injured working women, gender discrimination is still alive and well. Doctors may legally reduce disability compensation to women for such factors as degenerative changes, pregnancy, osteoporosis and osteopenia - even if these conditions were asymptomatic before the work injury.
Women who contract breast cancer as a result of their working environments will receive less benefits than a man who contracts testicular cancer from those same environments.
CAAA’s Women’s Caucus formed several years ago to fight gender bias in workers’ compensation and in the workplace, working with lawmakers to craft legislation to tackle such issues.
We mentioned last week that CAAA would again be sponsoring legislation to end discrimination in apportionment. That bill, Senate Bill 788, was introduced on February 19 by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), and would prohibit doctors from using gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, race, religious creed, age, national origin or genetic characteristics in disability ratings.
While we aim to correct this injustice in workers’ compensation, we again must look at inherent bias in ourselves and in the workplace, this time with regard to gender.
The pandemic has brought to light the vast inequities plaguing women in our economy, particularly women of color who are often forced into lower-wage jobs that lack benefits such as paid sick leave or family leave.
Due to such disparities, January’s employment numbers show women leaving the workforce in droves, with 275,000 exiting that month, adding to the 2.4 million who’ve left the workforce since February of 2020, compared to 1.8 million men. It’s a trend experts say will harm working women and families for years.
This Women’s History Month, we must renew our resolve to continue efforts that elevate women, promote equal pay and reduce disparities to hopefully make gender bias a thing of the past.