This Week in Law: Workers’ Compensation and More

workers' compensation

Washington State Amends Workers’ Compensation Law

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed an amendment into law that would allow more ill workers and survivors in Hanford to get their workers’ compensation claims approved .

A new law took effect in June of last year, which removed the burden of proof for workers claiming that exposure to hazardous or radioactive chemicals caused respiratory illnesses, cancers and neurological diseases.

The Department of Labor and Industries must now assume that workplace exposure caused these illnesses across much of Hanford unless the Department of Energy can provide convincing evidence otherwise.

The bill allows workers to claim compensation for cancer if a medical exam showed no evidence of the disease prior to working at Hanford.

Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi’s Heartbeat Abortion Law

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Mississippi’s law that banned abortions at the detection of a heartbeat, or as early as six weeks.

Conservative lawmakers in states across the country have been passing anti-abortion laws with hopes of undermining Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion.

Other states have passed so-called “heartbeat bills,” including Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Iowa. None of these laws have taken effect yet.

Mississippi’s law, which the courts blocked, originally was going to take effect in July. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the state’s only abortion clinic, has challenged the law. It argues that the law takes effect before most women even know they are pregnant. They claim that it constitutes an unconstitutional ban on abortion.

Colorado Governor Signs Equal Pay Law

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an equal pay bill into law that allows anyone to sue their employer if the employer paid them less due to gender inequality. Employees would have two years to file their claims.

Senate Bill 85 includes many business-friendly amendments that will protect some companies from lawsuits. It will also give them time to come to compliance.

Employers found to have paid someone less because of their gender will be required to pay whatever the employee would have made for the last three years.

The bill does include a good-faith exception. Under the law, the courts should not award additional payments to employees if the pay difference was unintentional. The bill even explains that companies can prove good faith by completing a pay audit before being sued.