Senate Bill 899, introduced by Sen. Pan on 1/16/18, has passed the State Senate, and as of 5/29/18 has proceeded to the Assembly for that body’s first reading of this legislative proposal. SB 899 seeks to identify and eliminate dis­crimi­nation which occurs against Cali­fornia workers based on their hereditary or genetic background.


Over the years, fortunately, progress has occurred in this area of discrimi­nation, and legislation has been en­acted to address the inherent wrongs which have existed, literally, for cen­tu­ries. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Dis­abilities Act of 1990, as well as many court decisions, have dealt with the in­jus­tice of discrimination with the goal of correcting the wrongful practices which unfortunately have been al­lowed to exist for long periods of time.  The legislative changes which have occurred have been at both the Federal and state levels.


SB 899 identifies and prohibits the discrimination which has occurred (and will continue to occur without the enactment of this legislation) in the form of reduced economic com­pensation to injured workers based simply on ethnic or genetic factors. It is common to see doctors in their medical reports opine that a worker’s lack of pigmentation is a contributory factor to certain types of skin dis­eases — specifically, skin cancer.  Doc­tors also commonly discuss the ethnicity of injured workers in rela­tion to their blood pressure.  In many of these cases, the genetic markers involved are used to reduce the compen­sation which these injured workers justly deserve.


Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians can all be subject to various types of discrimi­nation based on their eth­nicity when their genetic back­ground makes them more at risk for certain illnesses. This discrimi­natory con­duct undermines the Federal and state laws designed to create uni­formity of action towards all people.


The practice of discrimination distin­guishes and singles-out particular groups in arriving at decisions which deny certain individuals full compen­sation for their job-related injuries or medical conditions. The purpose of economic compensation for work injuries is to help offset a worker’s loss of earning capacity following such an injury and its effect on the worker’s activities of daily living and overall employ­ability.


Current dis­crim­i­­na­tion in compensating workers properly for their injuries is removed by SB 899, which eliminates any con­sideration of race or genetic make-up in impair­ment determinations.



The enactment of Senate Bill 899 would be consistent with Federal and state legis­lation, and the absolute need for this new attempt to further eliminate discrimi­nation has been brought to light in the case of City of Jackson v. Workers’ Compen­sation Appeals Board.  In that case, the WCAB found that apportionment of work injuries based on genetic fac­tors is discriminatory, but the Court of Appeal unfortu­nately an­nulled that decision by the WCAB.


This regrettable determination upon appeal highlights the need for legis­lation to elim­i­nate such discrimina­tory conduct, and SB 899 is de­signed specifically to accom­mo­date that need. This new bill provides clarity to courts and indicates that appor­tion­ment based on hereditary or genetic factors — factors which are immutable — is an abhorrent viola­tion of legal norms and legislative intent, not to mention an abuse of dignity against the individuals sub­ject to such discrimination.


Our sincere hope is that our repre­sentatives and the Governor fully appreciate the importance of SB 899 and it ultimately becomes law. Such accom­plishment would be another major step in the effort to ensure fair and just treatment for all workers within the California Workers’ Com­pen­sation system.

2370 Fifth Ave. San Diego, CA 92101
4200 Latham St. – Ste. B Riverside, CA 92501-1766
1-800-LAW-1199 (1-800-529-1199)
619-583-1199 951-276-1199
8388 Vickers St. San Diego, CA 92111
4200 Latham St. – Ste. B Riverside, CA 92501-1766

NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.