Governor Signs Taneka Talley Bill into Law

I wrote about the awful case of Taneka Talley in December of 2009.

Ms. Talley was killed while working at The Dollar Tree when man came in to the store and killed Ms. Talley solely because of the color of her skin. Then, to add insult to tragedy, The Dollar Tree refused to pay workers compensation benefits to her family, despite the fact that she was on the job when her murder occurred, because they stated it was a hate crime and such crimes are not work-related. After much publicity, Dollar Tree and its workers comp insurer, changed their minds and settled the claim on January 9, 2009.

Today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1093 into law. This new law would make it illegal deny claims on the basis of a perpetrator’s motives when an employee is injured and/or killed on the job.

AB 1093, as introduced, Yamada. Workers’ compensation. Existing workers’ compensation law generally requires employers to secure the payment of workers’ compensation, including medical treatment, for injuries incurred by their employees that arise out of, and in the course of, employment. This bill would provide that no workers’ compensation claim shall be denied solely because the motivation behind what caused the employee’s injury or death was related to an immutable personal characteristic of that employee.

This is ground breaking stuff. According to the insurer in Ms. Talley’s case, “Workers compensation death benefits can be denied if there is a personal connection between the attacker and the victim, meaning, the crime is not related to employment.” While Ms. Talley’s case was very public, I’m sure that there are many, many more employees out there who have been denied WC benefits because the issue was considered to be “personal” rather than work related.

Not anymore. At least not in California.