Suppose you work for a company that exposes you to toxic substances and does not tell you of the dangers or take steps to protect you. You get sick. You get workers compensation payments. Taking those payments means you cannot sue the employer who caused you harm. But you can sue those who furnished the harmful materials or equipment to that company.
You win. Present law, however, says the employer that harmed you can then sue you to get back its workers’ comp payments. Under that system, the company that hurt you can be out no money despite making you sick.
The Senate has advanced a workers comp reform law sought by businesses but has written into it a provision that makes businesses feel a financial impact when they harm their employees.
The senate-advanced bill says companies cannot sue to get back their workers comp payments to employees injured by exposure to toxic materials on the job. Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau says it’s a case of doing what is right, not what business lobbyists want.
Crowell :15 mp3
The sponsor of the bill, Jack Goodman of Mount Vernon, says Crowell’s amendment amounts to double-dipping by the damaged worker, an idea echoed by the state chamber of commerce which has made this bill one of its six priorities for the legislature to enact this year. Backers of the change say it’s about time employers who cause damage to workers fix the problem instead of just paying workers’ comp premiums and suffering no financial loss for harming their workers. .
A strong supporter of the pro-worker amendment, Kevin Engler of Farmington, is worried that those people in Gucci suits and alligator shoes—business lobbyists–will negate the Senate’s action when the bill reaches the House. .
Engler :13 mp3
One more vote sends the bill to the House of Representatives.