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California workers' comp discriminates against women - lawsuit

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California women routinely receive less in workers' compensation than men, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleged, partly because of stereotypes that lead to unfair reductions in benefits and an overwhelming majority of male medical examiners.

The case, filed as a proposed class action on behalf of three women and a labor union, alleges equal protection violations and asks a Los Angeles court to order sweeping changes to the way workers' comp is administered in the nation's most populous state.

A spokesman for the California Department of Industrial Relations said they have not been served with the lawsuit and "we do not comment on pending litigation."

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One plaintiff, Leticia Gonzalez, said she was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome due to pain in her hands, arms and shoulder. However, a medical examiner discounted her workers' comp claim by 20 percent, saying carpal tunnel "is almost ubiquitous in the female population in her age demographic."

Additionally, medical evaluators are overwhelmingly male, according to the lawsuit.

"In some areas and specialties, for example, less than 3 percent of the medical evaluators are women," the lawsuit said.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Ralph Boulton, Bernard Orr)

 
 
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