Oct. 27, the full Assembly was poised to consider A-2886, which provides employment protection for paid first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder under certain conditions. Ultimately, however, the Assembly did not consider A-2886, and we understand that there may be additional amendments forthcoming.
The League was joined by the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund (MEL/JIF) in expressing opposition to the bill. As currently drafted, the legislation would open public employers and the Worker’s Compensation system to lawsuits by current and former employees that include not only remedies available in common law tort actions but also civil fines and attorney fees for the plaintiff. Further, it makes this private cause of action the “sole remedy” for a violation of this act. This goes directly against the “grand compromise” established in the creation of Workers Compensation. A-2866 would throw out the century-old compromise by allowing for civil action by the employee, upending the Workers Compensation system as we know it.
Taken alone, A-2886 poses a significant cost increase for municipalities that are currently paying the highest workers compensation rates in the nation. Municipalities, and ultimately the taxpayers, can ill afford any additional financial burden. Municipalities are already facing the difficult task of crafting a budget in a time of record inflation, health benefit increases of 22%, pension cost of 17% (PERS) and 36.51% (PFRS), solid waste cost rising at double the previous year, cybersecurity insurance increasing, general liability insurance increasing due to erosion of Title 59 by the courts, lack of summary judgements in favor of public entities, and the recently adopted laws.
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Deputy Executive Director & Director of Government Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x112.