By Marguerite Sweeney, Attorney at Law, Redding, Co-chair of iWARoneBay.com.
On Thursday, October 8, 2009, women injured at work and women attorneys who are their advocates announced formation of Injured Women After Reform (iWAR), a new political action committee and Internet-based campaign to elect a new governor who will end discrimination against women in the workplace.
Our campaign focuses on a systemic problem within workers' compensation “apportionment” law that allows unequal treatment between male and female workers who are permanently injured. Doctors and judges are asked to reduce a worker's permanent disability award on account of medical conditions that are more common in women than men. Often the result is that insurance companies legally pay less to women who get hurt on the job. Often a condition, such as osteoporosis, is more common among women, but has no effect on a woman's ability to do her job. However, her compensation is nevertheless reduced. Women who break a bone at work thus get less from the insurance company because osteoporosis is a “women's problem.” Women of color are told their injuries are caused by “genetic pre- disposition,” and their compensation is reduced.
We have launched our iWAR campaign with fundraising auctions on eBAY, in order to fund Democratic efforts to change our state's top leader in 2010. In our state legislature, workers compensation is a partisan issue and we look to our elected Democratic representatives for relief and change. The initial auction includes entertainment, sports and political memorabilia, including a copy of Meg Whitman's voter registration record, a Doors album signed by Ray Manzarek, the band's keyboardist, and tickets to Los Angeles Lakers games.
The governor's ‘reform' law has produced unintended consequences, that have disadvantaged working women in the workers compensation system,sometimes resulting in lower compensation than the compensation paid to injured working men. That's discrimination, and it must end.
We're going to work to elect a Democratic governor who will end this discrimination. In 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill (SB 1115, Migden) that would have eliminated this discrimination against women and minorities disabled in the workplace. A similar measure (SB 145, DeSaulnier) to end this discrimination is currently pending in the State Senate. The governor is again expected to veto the measure.
The California Applicants Attorneys Association (CAAA) will use proceeds from “iWAR on eBay” to fight gender discrimination and elect political leaders committed to equality under the law.