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California overreacts to NFL workers’ compensation loophole

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For years, the NFL has complained about the ability of injured players to pursue workers’ compensation benefits in California based on limited connections to the state.  Now, California is in the process of closing the loophole.

And, as government often does when trying to fix a longstanding problem, California may end up going so far in the other direction that an equally unjust outcome arises.

On Thursday, the California Assembly passed a bill that restricts the filing of workers’ compensation claims by pro athletes.  The measure, approved by a vote of 61-4, now moves to the California Senate.

The NFLPA previously has mobilized to oppose the effort.  A memo sent to all player representatives, alternate representatives, and NFLPA Executive Committee members on Wednesday explains that the bill contains multiple objectionable provisions.  First, the bill requires players to work at least 90 days in California to receive benefits.  Second, the bill prevents California residents who play for out-of-state teams to receive benefits.  Third, the bill prevents players who spent less than eight years playing for a California team and who finished their careers with a non-California team from receiving benefits for the cumulative trauma of playing pro football.

Fourth, and perhaps most significantly, the bill will apply retroactively, wiping out pending claims that would have resulted in benefits under existing law.

The NFLPA memo contends that supporters of the bill believe the workers’ compensation claims from out-of-state players place a “heavy economic burden” on California, even though the costs are paid not by the taxpayers but by the employers.  (That said, a flood of claims creates a burden for the state, since the claims have to be processed and litigated.)  The NFLPA memo explains that, under the new NFL labor deal, the money to pay the benefits comes from the players’ total share of the revenue.

The NFLPA memo also points out that, in 2010, pro athletes paid more than $161 million in state income tax.  Of course, the pro sports leagues also generate millions in tax dollars and economic activity.  And with California hoping to lure Super Bowls to the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara and one or more NFL teams (and Super Bowls) to a new stadium that would be built in Los Angeles, the incentive to do what the sports leagues want is clear.

Still, it’s one thing to erase opportunities for abuse; it’s quite another to push the pendulum too far in the other direction, limiting and eliminating otherwise legitimate claims.  Here’s hoping that the legislators focus on crafting a fair outcome, and not simply the outcome that the NFL and other leagues are able to finagle.

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27 Responses to “California overreacts to NFL workers’ compensation loophole”
  1. jimmyt says: May 3, 2013 10:16 AM

    When doesn’t California overreact? The only thing that can save that state is another Ronald Regan. Good luck with that.

  2. nflfan87 says: May 3, 2013 10:25 AM

    Anyone ever heard the phrase “No taxation without representation”… How can you tax people for working in your state and then not offer them the same access to workers comp benefits??? If I’m not mistaken, the players are the one’s who are paying the workers comp insurance premiums.

  3. benh999 says: May 3, 2013 10:28 AM

    Actually taxpayers do pay for it with increased premiums for workman’s compensation insurance. These raise the cost to do business in California. Even California isn’t insane enough to want to set itself up as a workman’s comp haven.

  4. genericcommenter says: May 3, 2013 10:28 AM

    Teams have also gotten away with not paying compensation because they claim that the primary job of players is to attend camp and practices, and that games are only incidental to employment (ha!). For example, for years the Redskins got away with claiming that their employees do not work in Maryland because they are based in Virginia, and that their salary is paid for practicing in Virginia, not playing games. I think a court finally ruled against that in the last couple years, but I don’t know how it turned out.

  5. stompuout says: May 3, 2013 10:35 AM

    Yeah! That Daryl Stingley, what a free loader. Thanks for closing that loophole Commissioner Goodell. Next year, at the draft, the fans should throw rotten eggs and tomatoes at him instead of just booing him.

  6. dontouchmyjunk says: May 3, 2013 10:36 AM

    Why is this just a California thing? Nice reporting. Can we maybe, I don’t know, compare and contrast how other states handle this sort of thing with pro athletes?

    Any take on the position Florida has on this issue? Georgia? New York? Texas? They don’t seem to worry about attracting future Super Bowls even with their more rigid workers comp laws.

    Can we maybe define “legitimate claims”? Has any pro athlete ever received workers comp in Illinois? I’d like to know.

  7. Max says: May 3, 2013 10:37 AM

    If they are paying the majority of their taxes in California, then they must be covered under California’s workmen comp. Simple

    Any argument that they are rich and don’t deserve workmen comp is void… because their gross tax is higher on yearly basis.

  8. trollhammer20 says: May 3, 2013 10:37 AM

    Is Cali still slashing spending and raising taxes to close their yearly budget gaps? If so, pardon them for not bending over backwards to accommodate the desires of a multibillion dollar industry and millionaire athletes.

  9. rectumdamnnearkilledem says: May 3, 2013 10:39 AM

    “claims from out-of-state players place a “heavy economic burden” on California”…I guess California can only afford to have their citizens receive government assistance

  10. oakraid says: May 3, 2013 10:48 AM

    “Here’s hoping that the legislators focus on crafting a fair outcome”

    Wont happen. The liberal dems in power here in CA dont care one bit about ‘fair’ outcomes. They always go for the absurd extremes.

  11. mr86ism says: May 3, 2013 10:53 AM

    So the states do the work and the league pays out? Hmmm…Time is money though, right? Hope this passes.
    Long live Cali! Best women, best weather and the best 215

  12. marthisdil says: May 3, 2013 11:28 AM

    Pro athletes in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL shouldn’t be able to file workers comp. They have contracts that pay them a ton of money, even for the lowest paid players.

    They agree that they are playing a physical sport, where things can happen.

  13. marthisdil says: May 3, 2013 11:29 AM

    “If I’m not mistaken, the players are the one’s who are paying the workers comp insurance premiums.”

    You would be wrong. The employer pays them.

  14. nananatman says: May 3, 2013 11:33 AM

    I wouldn’t let them apply. The system is for workers who might get and try to avoid it. Injury compensation for players should be the leagues problem. Asking social services to pay for a millionaire or even someone who makes 800,000 a year is scummy.

  15. sixjak says: May 3, 2013 11:51 AM

    The country generally trends a bit behind California. That used to be kind of cool. I moved away 13 years ago and haven’t looked back. They will be the first state to collapse. No thanks. They elect the extremists so they can have fun with the extremists.

  16. onbucky96 says: May 3, 2013 11:56 AM

    Ah, more people lining up to tell DeMaurice Smith to get bent.

  17. moman2 says: May 3, 2013 12:06 PM

    I dont understand everyone who talks crap about California….the first state to collapse, extremists, etc…

    acting as if Cali hasnt almost ALWAYS been this way…and has yet to collapse, even with earthquakes. to me, it seems like jealousy and envy. now respond with your comebacks that you think make you look smart about the economy and what not. u look like the “extremists” that we vote for.

    california > wherever the hell you are.

  18. csilojohnson says: May 3, 2013 12:19 PM

    You hope for logic in an illogical system….

  19. questforthesixthnotthelast2013 says: May 3, 2013 12:21 PM

    The NFL is based in N.Y.
    They should be filing their claims out of N.Y.
    I agree that its an over reaction, but these guys won’t be getting 300 a week, they will be getting 1000’s or tens of thousands. Since its a Union job, I really think the unions should be paying out for their union members….

  20. joetoronto says: May 3, 2013 12:21 PM

    benh999 says:
    May 3, 2013 10:28 AM
    Actually taxpayers do pay for it with increased premiums for workman’s compensation insurance. These raise the cost to do business in California. Even California isn’t insane enough to want to set itself up as a workman’s comp haven.
    ***************************************************
    Taxpayers pay for Workman’s Comp in California?

    If that’s true, that’s a radical change from here, where employers pay for it.

  21. majormeatcurtains says: May 3, 2013 12:23 PM

    Oh man, Honey Boo Boo was counting on that money check dangit! “I gots to work for 90 days?”. That’s inhumane!

  22. bullethead527 says: May 3, 2013 1:03 PM

    As a resident of California, I find this shocking.

    So it is okay to pay for all the medical expenses for an immigrant, who does not pay taxes.

    But they dont want to pay work mans comp to an athlete that pays a boat load of taxes.

    This is what is wrong with this state……..

  23. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: May 3, 2013 1:22 PM

    The NFLPA memo contends that supporters of the bill believe the workers’ compensation claims from out-of-state players place a “heavy economic burden” on California, even though the costs are paid not by the taxpayers but by the employers.
    _______

    Right, because employers have no effect on the economy. Typical liberal thinking.

  24. mattyk72 says: May 3, 2013 1:59 PM

    As a wc adjuster I have to say the amount of “knowledge” being tossed around in the comments here is laughable.

  25. rcali says: May 3, 2013 4:44 PM

    Pro players need to understand that the only way to get things out of the California government is to be here illegally. Free everything…housing, medical, education!

  26. garyhd01 says: May 3, 2013 7:12 PM

    ahhhh California the greatest weather in the country and the dumbest government my daughter is 32 im still getting taken for child support but it costs more to get the attorney than just pay it heres the kicker they are taking the money from me and sending it to her mother so cal isn’t getting it my daughter isn’t getting it her boozing mother is and she was collecting welfare the whole time from cali while I was paying child support weather isn’t worth it for me happy in arizona

  27. CKL says: May 4, 2013 11:01 AM

    The NFLPA memo contends that supporters of the bill believe the workers’ compensation claims from out-of-state players place a “heavy economic burden” on California, even though the costs are paid not by the taxpayers but by the employers.
    __________________________________
    Leave it to the NFLPA, an entity that never has to justify a single dime of the huge dues they rake in while providing nothing of value that I can see to their members to consider employers as entities that shouldn’t be considered taxpayers. Tell any business owner (especially small business)they don’t pay huge amounts of tax for almost anything they do and get back to me with how many laughs in the face you get in return.

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