Collateral Estoppel and the Impact of a Labor Code Section 132a Trial Decision on FEHA Claims: An Analysis of Kaur v. Foster Poultry Farms
JAMES (JIM) J. ACHERMANN, ESQ.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
California’s workers’ compensation system provides a distinct set of benefits to injured workers. Many of its codes, regulations, rules, defenses and even courts are separate from the civil law system. That distinct nature requires those practicing within it to be focused on and understand the complexities and nuances of a system that is often foreign to their contemporaries practicing civil law. Workers’ compensation attorneys have high caseloads and explore each avenue of the workers’ compensation system to achieve benefits for the injured worker.
However, workers’ compensation practitioners cannot operate with blinders on, focused solely on their own system of law. The arguments, evidence and decisions made at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) have a force and effect outside the workers’ compensation system. Practitioners of workers’ compensation law engage in litigation that can impact injured workers’ rights far beyond the scope of their representation at the WCAB, potentially in an adverse way. The case of Kaur v. Foster Poultry Farms (2022) 87 Cal.Comp.Cases 857 provides an interesting reminder that what workers’ compensation lawyers do at the WCAB matters both within the confines of that system and beyond.