Do Women Receive Less in Workers’ Compensation Claims?

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Is it a level playing field when it comes to workers’ compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, disabilities, or other equally debilitating health issues? It’s a reasonable question to ask for women who sometimes feel unfairly judged or treated differently from their male counterparts.

State Programs Don’t Always Treat People Equally

One case in 2016 was particularly interesting.

Leticia Gonzalez was a knowledge worker who used a PC for 17 years at her job. That was until the pain to her wrists, and numbness both in the wrists and down to her hands, became too much to bear.

There are workers’ compensation programs in many states across the country that provide for people who find themselves in this position. However, in Ms. Gonzalez’s case, her permanent disability benefits were 20 percent lower than a man in the same situation.

Insensitive Responses Are Common

In the California state case, Ms. Gonzalez joined together with several other women in a lawsuit filed by the Service Employees International Union claiming a clear bias in how cases were reviewed. Even after medical surgery, her symptoms persisted as a long-term issue.

In the words of the legal minds at the time, “Being a woman is not a preexisting medical condition.” Certainly, a clever turn of phrase, but is it a fair comment?

Among the women who filed, Veronica Kelley, was four-months pregnant when she saw one of the qualified medical evaluators (QME) under the workers’ comp program. Rather than being treated reasonably, the examiner was keen to link her pregnancy with carpal tunnel symptoms questioning whether the two factors were related? This despite the symptoms beginning to occur before her becoming pregnant.

Is Carpal Tunnel Different for Women?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is something that happens to many people. It’s borne of repetitive and continued movements that affect the wrists often reaching down the fingers.

The most common work-related causes of this diagnosis are from factory and office workers who have frequently performed repetitive actions. Whether that is lifting and moving heavy boxes around in a warehouse or typing on a keyboard in the office; it all takes a toll.

Put simply, the human body works best with varied actions that are non-repetitive by nature. It can suffer considerably when getting into patterned actions continuously repeated over long periods. We’re not robots, and such repetitious motions take a toll.

How does this relate to women? The QME in Ms. Gonzalez’s case attributed 20 percent of her claim to what was termed “non-industrial” causes. Specifically, being older and being female. QME stated at the time that “Carpal tunnel… is… ubiquitous in the female population.”

What Can You Do If You’re Suffering Too?

As the lawyers from Horst Shewmaker will happily confirm, women have every right to be compensated fairly and equally on worker compensation cases.

Various state authorities are treating cases like insurance claims by assessing the risk factors by age, gender, and other metrics that sometimes result in an unfair outcome.

Women who are in Georgia and feel that their worker’s compensation is not being fairly assessed can certainly hire a legal firm like Horst Shewmaker. They’re in a good position to review whether a gender bias is being observed and know how to proceed on your behalf if that’s true.

It’s fair to say that women sometimes do receive less than their male counterparts when they have similar medical symptoms originating from the same root cause. This isn’t right and we as women don’t have to sit and take it. That’s where your rights can be defended.

Thanks to Sneks

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