The Massachusetts Senate has reportedly overwhelmingly voted in favor of expanding the scope of disfiguring injuries and the rate of compensation available to hurt workers across the Commonwealth. Senate Bill 2033 would raise the current $15,000 cap on disfiguring workplace injuries and allow employees who suffer such harm to recover compensation, even if their scar or other disfigurement is not located on the face, neck, or hands. According to Senator Sal DiDomenico, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the current workers’ compensation law unfairly limits the disfiguring injuries for which hurt workers may collect added compensation.
Despite concerns over the possibility of increasing workers’ compensation costs for employers in Massachusetts, the proposed bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-1. Under the measure, a worker who suffers a disfiguring injury in the Commonwealth would be eligible to receive up to 22.5 percent of his or her average weekly wage, rather than the flat rate of $15,000 that has been in effect for nearly a quarter of a century. According to DiDomenico, data from the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents suggests that the total additional costs related to the change will not exceed $500,000.
In addition to Senate Bill 2033, the lawmaking body approved a measure that would allow the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to file a civil case seeking an injunction against employers who violate state wage and hour laws. Like the disfigurement bill, opponents of Senate Bill 967 expressed concerns over the potential additional costs for employers. Attorney General Healey stated the measure clarifies that wage and hour violations may be enforced directly without requiring prosecutors to resort to filing a criminal action or pursuing civil citations. Healy reportedly believes that providing her office with such authority will likely result in a speedier resolution to most employer wage and hour violations.
On the same day, the Massachusetts Senate also voted to adopt House Bill 3772, which will replace the Commonwealth’s Workforce Investment Board with the state Workforce Development Board and bring Massachusetts into compliance with federal law. The new board will be comprised of 33 members, most of whom represent the interests of employers across the Commonwealth. Before adopting the measure, however, the Senate added language to encourage officials to appoint women, disabled persons, and individuals who represent a variety of manufacturing trades to the board.
If you suffered a disfiguring injury at work in Boston, you should contact an experienced Suffolk County workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you protect your right to receive disability and other benefits. The hardworking attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. are available to help you recover the compensation you deserve based on the severity of your workplace accident injuries. To discuss your rights with a seasoned advocate, contact Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. online or call us today at 800-367-0871.
Massachusetts Senate passes workplace disfigurement, wage violation bills, by Michael Norton and Colin A. Young, Masslive.com