California Bill Battles Workers’ Comp Claims from Athletes

March 1, 2013

A California legislator has introduced a bill that would address a “loophole” in which pro athletes, mostly National Football League players, are getting workers’ compensation benefits despite having played on teams in other states.

The bill by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, addresses cumulative injuries that many NFL players are subject to over the course of their careers. Players file for workers’ comp because it enables those with such cumulative injuries, regardless if a worker is based out of state, to file a claim as long as they can prove they conducted work at some point in California.

The language for Assembly Bill 1309, which would amend sections of the state’s labor code, states: “This bill would provide that an employee hired outside of this state, his or her dependents, and his or her employer shall be exempt from this state’s workers’ compensation laws if the employee is a professional athlete, defined, for purposes of these provisions, to include an athlete who is employed at the minor or major league level in the sport of baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer, and that professional athlete is temporarily within this state doing work for his or her employer.”

The bill was introduced on Feb. 25.

More than 60 former National Football League players are suing the organization’s management council to overturn an arbitration decision that bars them from seeking workers comp in California, Bloomberg new service is reporting.

The players were required under an arbitration award to withdraw claims in the state and banned from claiming they are entitled to the benefits, according to a complaint filed on Thursday in federal court in San Francisco.

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