Opt Out Movement Hits Roadblock

Oklahoma Supreme Court finds “opt out” unconstitutional and what this means for injured workers in Michigan.

ProPublica and NPR are reporting that an Oklahoma law permitting companies to opt out of workers’ compensation has been found unconstitutional.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court found opt out plans unconstitutional because they treated one group of injured workers differently from all other injured workers in the state. It was noted in the concurring opinion that appeal rights were also limited to a committee made up of people selected by the company itself.

We have blogged about opt out in the past. Powerful corporate interests such as Walmart, Nordstrom, Safeway, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Sysco Food Services financed a lobbying group, the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC), to challenge laws in all fifty states.

Michigan legislators have not yet embraced the idea of opt out but the danger is real. Opt out represents an attack on the “grand bargain” that is the basis for modern workers’ compensation laws. Corporate interests are constantly using political influence for their own agendas.

Opt out allows corporations to rewrite the rule book and changes what is paid. Each plan different from the next with arbitrary restrictions on medical treatment and lost wages. Oversight is nonexistent and access to courts denied.

Insurance premiums in Michigan have already plummeted nearly 30% since 2011 reforms were passed. It seems like we are in a race to the bottom and injured workers are paying the price. We hope the Oklahoma decision gives Michigan legislators pause when considering this important issue.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

Should corporations be allowed to opt-out of workers’ comp?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Joe Gratz.

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