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Apportioning Workers’ Compensation on Age Is Discriminatory

December 5, 2007
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Related Topics: Workers' Compensation, Benefit Design and Communication, Ethics, Compensation, Latest News
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Apportioning for age runs afoul of state antidiscrimination laws, California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals has ruled.
 
Workers’ compensation benefits cannot be apportioned for age, a California appeals court ruled Monday, December 3, in an unpublished case.

Apportioning for age runs afoul of state antidiscrimination laws, California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled in Lois Vaira v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and California Travel and Tourism Commission et al.

Vaira, 73, injured her back in 2003 while working for the tourism commission, court records show. A medical examiner concluded that the claimant’s age and pre-existing osteopenia, or osteoporosis, contributed to a resulting disability.

The medical examiner apportioned 40 percent of her disability to her pre-existing conditions and 60 percent to the work injury. A workers’ compensation judge and an appeals board adjusted her disability award down accordingly, court records show. She was awarded more than $51,000 in permanent disability benefits after the adjustment.

The appeals court in Sacramento, California, however, overturned the workers’ compensation board’s findings, which found that apportionment for osteoporosis does not reflect an age bias. But the appeals court remanded the case because of age bias.

Filed by Roberto Ceniceros of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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