AIA Applauds Oklahoma Supreme Court Ruling Opt-Out Unconstitutional

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Fred C. Bosse, Southwest Region Vice President for the American Insurance Association (AIA), issued the following statement applauding today’s ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s in Vasquez v. Dillards.

Fred C. Bosse, Southwest Region Vice President for the American Insurance Association (AIA), issued the following statement applauding today’s ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s in Vasquez v. Dillards (5:15-cv-00861). The court found the Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation opt-out law to be unconstitutional. It struck down Oklahoma’s Employee Injury Benefit Act because it created a separate and distinct class of employees for disparate treatment, a violation of the special law provision under the state’s constitution.

AIA, jointly with the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiff’s opposition to opt-out. The brief stated that the Employee Injury Benefit Act unavoidably fails to provide uniform protections for all employees and inappropriately shifts the responsibility for occupational injuries to the injured workers.

Mr. Bosse’s statement follows:

“AIA applauds the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling. We agree with the Court’s finding that Oklahoma’s Employee Injury Benefit Act creates two classes of injured workers: those with full and uniform protections under the state’s program and those subject to employers’ decisions to provide their own benefit plans, without mandatory protections and with little or no state oversight.

Over this past year, the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Supreme Court carefully examined these serious constitutional issues and rendered very sound opinions.

Moving forward, AIA is ready to review meaningful ways to reform the workers’ compensation system. However, all solutions must focus on making sure that the system achieves its key purpose – getting the injured worker back to work. Today’s decision reaffirms that having the ability to opt-out of the state’s workers’ compensation system would terminate meaningful state oversight and reaffirms that employers must meet basic obligations to their workers.”

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