New Law Limits Workers’ Compensation for Out-of-State Athletes
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a measure (AB 1309) that limits the ability of out-of-state professional athletes to file for workers' compensation in California, the Sacramento Bee reports (White, Sacramento Bee, 10/8).
Officials for several professional sports leagues argue that injured players from out-of-state teams are inappropriately benefiting from California's workers' compensation system, which increases team costs and the cost of purchasing workers' compensation for all employers in the state.
The league officials say that certain players receive workers' compensation payments from California even though they played very few games in the state (California Healthline, 4/16).
Details of Law
Under the new law, athletes can seek workers' compensation in the state if:
- They played a minimum of two years for California-based teams; or
- They played 20% or more of their career for California-based teams (Sacramento Bee, 10/8).
However, those who played seven or more seasons for out-of-state teams are barred from filing for workers' compensation in California.
The law applies to professional players of:
- Ice hockey; and
It also applies to minor league players.
The law is retroactive to Sept. 15 (Bensinger/Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 10/8).
Supporters of New Law
The bill was supported by:
- Several professional athletic teams in California;
- Major League Baseball;
- The National Basketball Association;
- The National Football League; and
- The National Hockey League.
In a statement, Assembly member Henry Perea (D-Fresno) -- sponsor of AB 1309 -- said the law will keep the state from being "unfairly targeted by out-of-state professional athletes."
Opponents of New Law
The legislation was strongly opposed by athletes' unions, including:
- The National Football League Players Association;
- The National Basketball Players Association; and
- Other major labor groups (Sacramento Bee, 10/8).
Modesto Diaz -- a workers' compensation attorney in Santa Ana who specializes in athletes' claims -- said the measure passed because its supporters capitalized on the incorrect belief that taxpayer money is used to pay workers' compensation claims.
Diaz said implementation of the law could result in players having to turn to Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid or other government assistance programs.
Angie Wei -- legislative director of the California Labor Foundation -- said the law also sets up "a terrible precedent for players and a more dangerous precedent for all workers" (Los Angeles Times, 10/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.