Governor Passes California Law Protecting Workers' Compensation in Race

October 15, 2009

As California Labor and Employment Lawyers, we have been following the new California legislation signed this week by Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger, prohibiting the denial of workers' compensation insurance benefits filed by an employee who has been attacked on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.

The measure, AB 1093, authored by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, was initiated by the case of Taneka Talley, the Fairfield, California employee who was stabbed to death in March 2006 while working at a Dollar Tree store.

Talley was killed by Tommy Joe Thompson, a white male, while stocking shelves at the Dollar Tree. Thompson was later arrested and convicted of the murder, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle confessed during the trial that he targeted the African-American Talley and stabbed her because of her race. Because of Thompson's testimony, Dollar Tree's insurers denied death benefits to Talley's young son, citing the attack was for racial and personal reasons.

Under California state law, employers are required to pay workers' compensation benefits to employees or their surviving families for all employment-related injuries or deaths. In this case however, the Dollar Tree decided that because the attack was motivated by personal reasons, the survivors would not be covered by insurance.

After huge public protest, and an appeal from the family over the insurers' decision, Dollar Tree settled the claim for an undisclosed amount in January.

According to Assemblywoman Yamada, AB 1093, or "Talley's Law" will change California state law to ensure that no worker can be denied insurance benefits based on race, class, religion or sexual orientation. Yamada stated California families should never have to experience both the tragedy of losing a loved one, and the denial of workers' compensation benefits based on racial hatred or personal characteristics. Stated Yamada, this "loophole in the law has been closed."

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one in the workplace, contact Howard Law PC today. Our experienced team of Anaheim-based Labor & Employment Attorneys will represent and protect your families' rights to compensation.

Racial Killing at Dollar Tree Leads to New Law, San Francisco Chronicle, October 15, 2009

Win Some, Lose Some For Local Legislators, The Reporter, October 13, 2009

California Bans Denying Workers Comp in Racial Attacks, Business Insurance.com, October 12, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Office of the Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Division of Workers' Compensation, (DIR) The California Workers' Compensation System