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Castillo: Fighting for Equity

  • State: California

February is Black History Month. It's a time to celebrate the contributions of African-American labor leaders as they continue their work to ensure equal treatment for workers everywhere.

Michael Castillo

Michael Castillo

All injured workers should have the right to be treated equally, but as it currently stands, they're not equal. Physicians use genetic traits to determine the percentage of disability due to "other factors" in apportionment.

African-American and Latinx men are most at risk of being injured on the job because historic racism forces them into more dangerous work. African Americans also have the highest risk of disability related to on-the-job injuries.

An African American experiencing a stroke or heart attack as a result of their working environment often have their disability benefits significantly reduced simply because African Americans have higher rates of hypertension.

We're hoping to correct this injustice this year.

Senate Bill 731 (Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena), CAAA-sponsored legislation to eliminate bias in apportionment, was approved unanimously by the Senate last year and now awaits its first hearing in the Assembly, where we're hoping for similar results.

The legislation would "prohibit consideration of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation or genetic characteristics to determine the approximate percentage of the permanent disability caused by other factors" before and after the industrial injury.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we insist that the Legislature end the atrocious practice of allowing apportionment based on genetics.

Michael Castillo is communications director for the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. This opinion is republished, with permission, from the CAAA website.

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