You wouldn’t ordinarily think that something like workers’ compensation benefit guides could be sexist. After all, an injury is an injury, so it shouldn’t matter the gender of the person being impacted by it. A recent lawsuit in California aims to challenge that idea, arguing that the state’s workers’ comp system is not only sexist, but deeply so, and that it has been consistently discriminating against women by undervaluing the harm they suffer.
The case at issue was filed on behalf of several women in Los Angeles County. The plaintiffs are attempting to receive class action certification and bring a claim representing thousands more women. Two of the women involved in the initial lawsuit are former police officers who both received mastectomies. In one instance, the officer said she developed breast cancer due to exposure to toxins, something a medical evaluator agreed with. Though the injury was deemed work-related, the disability guide used by California said that there is no permanent impairment due to the loss of a woman’s breast.
The officer, Janice Page, argues such a result demonstrates the inherent inequality in the workers’ comp system. She says that to this day she suffers from scarring, pain, numbness and psychological harm due to the mastectomy. Despite these easily demonstrated injuries, the workers’ comp system offered no hope of compensation, something Page believes is evidence of unfair sexism.