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California bill aims for fairness in women's disability claims

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A California bill would prevent medical conditions that primarily affect women from being considered preexisting conditions when determining workers compensation permanent disability benefits.

A.B. 305 passed 59-18 in the California State Assembly on Monday, according to the state assembly website. The bill has been sent to the state Senate for consideration.

Under the proposed legislation, conditions such as pregnancy, menopause and osteoporosis could not be considered in a workers comp claim to determine how much a work accident contributed to a claimant's disability. The bill also would exclude those conditions, as well as sexual harassment, from being considered in workers comp claims involving psychiatric injuries.

Disability impairment ratings related to breast cancer and the aftereffects of the disease must be comparable to impairment ratings for prostate cancer, the bill reads.

According to an analysis of A.B. 305 posted on the state assembly website, proponents say that California's workers comp law “does not clearly prohibit gender or other characteristics from being taken into account when apportioning an injury.”

“Additionally, current law requires physicians to identify 'other factors' when apportioning an injury,” the analysis reads. “This leaves a loophole in which an injury can be attributed to conditions predominantly or only found among the workers' gender.”