Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Hate Crimes in the Workplace?
Hate crimes occur in the workplace in every state. However, across the nation there is very little case law explaining whether hate crimes are compensable under workers’ compensation law. California is one of the few states that has enacted legislation explicitly prohibiting the denial of workers’ compensation benefits based solely on an assailant’s hatred of an employee-victim based on their membership to a protected class. But most states’ workers’ compensation statues are not clear on whether hate crimes are compensable under workers’ compensation.
Pittsburgh Associate Kyle Black was featured as a guest on the Legal Talk Network’s Workers' Compensation Matters podcast episode titled “Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Hate Crimes in the Workplace?” which explores whether hate crimes are compensable under the typical language of, and principles applied to, workers’ compensation statutes. Specifically, Kyle explained how to determine whether hate crimes in the workplace can “arise” out of a worker’s employment. He first discusses the law, in general, surrounding whether injuries “arise out of” employment. The second part examines how injury from a hate crime may actually be considered a professional risk. The podcast explains the competing arguments over whether a hate crime is or is not a “personal” risk, and also discusses other public policy considerations for excluding hate crimes from coverage.
A link to the podcast can be found here.