Say, two construction workers get hurt on the job. They make the same amount of money, they have the same injury, and they each hire a lawyer. Can you tell just by looking at them who’s likely to get the higher workers’ comp settlement?
Sadly, the answer is yes, at least in Illinois, according to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health evaluated 1,039 cases involving injuries to construction workers from between 2000 and 2005. Of the workers involved, 724 were white, 68 were black, 168 were Hispanic and 79 were of other ethnicities.
Their shocking finding: The white non-Hispanic workers got an average of almost $6,000 more than their black or Hispanic counterparts. It happened when all the factors listed above were accounted for and controlled, and even when the mean percent permanent partial disability of white workers was either equivalent to, or lower than, that of black and Hispanic workers.
There seem to be two possible explanations, say the study’s authors. Either prejudice and bias undermine the system or “the level of information and knowledge about how the system works – and what can actually be litigated, disputed, or requested for compensation – might vary by ethnic group.”
What do you think? Feel free to comment below.