A study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health found a disparity between white non-Hispanic construction workers and Hispanic or black construction workers when considering workers’ comp settlements. White non-Hispanic claimants were awarded approximately $6,000 more for similar injuries and disabilities as minority workers in the same industry.
Researchers compared medical records from the Illinois Dept. of Public Health with workers’ comp data from the Illinois Workers’ Comp Commission between 2000 and 2005. They evaluated a sample size of 1,039 cases and controlled for average weekly wage, injury type and severity, weeks of temporary disability and other factors that contribute to the final compensation decision.
The study offered two possible explanations for the disparity: systematic bias or prejudice within the system or a variance of understanding and knowledge of how the system works (what qualifies as a claim and how can it be litigated or disputed) within different ethnic groups.