University of Illinois Chicago Study Finds Racial Disparity in Workers Compensation Settlements

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health conducted a study of racial differences in workers’ compensation settlements for construction workers in Illinois. The results showed that non-Hispanic White workers are awarded higher settlements than Black of Hispanic workers with similar workplace injuries.

The racial disparity in workers’ compensation settlements averaged $6,000 more for non-Hispanic Whites compared to minority workers. The settlements for Whites were higher even when controlling for average weekly earnings, type of injury, severity of injury, duration of disability, and whether or not the injured party used an attorney during the workers’ compensation process.

Lee Freeman, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the study, stated, “One explanation is that there is some systemic bias or prejudice occurring within the system. Or it could be that the level of information about how the system works might vary by ethnic group.”

The research was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The article can be accessed here.

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