The national campaign led by Walmart, Lowe’s and other big companies to allow employers to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance realized a set-back following an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that such plans are unconstitutional.
Back in 2013, Oklahoma passed legislation allowing employers to write their own plans to compensate injured workers. Encouraged by the ruling, many large companies pushed other states to follow suit. However, an investigation by NPR and Propublica released last year, found that the plans provided by some companies fell woefully short, noting that injured workers typically had lower benefits and more restrictions with their company plan than with traditional workers’ compensation.
After the story broke, many business-driven workers’ comp laws were struck down in a series of state Supreme Court rulings including Oklahoma. The justices there found that opt-out plans were unconstitutional because they treated one group of injured workers differently from other injured workers in the state.
Opponents to business-sponsored plans see opt out laws as an attack on American workers; simply a way for businesses to save money to the detriment of employees, who will eventually be forced to seek care through taxpayer funded Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Proponents of the opt-out plans vow to fight on despite the set-back, believing they can not only save businesses money, but provide better care and benefits to workers. As the old idiom goes, “the truth is in the pudding”.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Iowa workers’ compensation Law Offices of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC. We will help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you need to cover lost wages and medical expenses after suffering a workplace injury.
Source: Propublica, “Oklahoma’s Top Court: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules for Injured Workers”, Michael Grabell, September 13, 2016.