Law practices these days are far more specialized than they were, say, a hundred years ago, and specific kinds of judges tend to hear specific kinds of cases. Disputed workers’ compensation claims are heard by an administrative law judge. In Kansas, the way workers’ compensation judges come into their positions is by first being nominated and then being appointed by the governor and the secretary of the Labor Department. But the way that process works recently changed.
Since Senate Bill 187 was passed, a two-member panel will no longer nominate judicial candidates. When that was the case, one panel member represented business interests while the other represented workers’ interests. Now a seven-member committee will nominate candidates for administrative judge positions, and the change has sparked some controversy.
The following parties will now be represented on the nominating committee:
- the National Federation of Independent Businesses
- the Kansas Self-Insurers Association
- the Kansas Chamber of Commerce
- the Kansas State Council for Human Resource Management
- the state Labor Department
- the Kansas AFL-CIO labor federation
- and one individual from an employees’ organization selected by the Labor Secretary
While the initial meeting of the committee appears to have gone smoothly, with all parties agreeing to reappoint a Johnson County judge, dispute arose after the passage of the Senate bill. Critics say the structure of the committee gives too much power to insurance companies and businesses and not enough to groups that protect people who have suffered a work-related injury.
Workers who have been injured on the job need to be aware that legal support may be necessary to receive the maximum amount of due compensation.
Source: cjonline.com, “No discord in first workers’ comp committee meeting,” Andy Marso, July 1, 2013
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