White non-Hispanic construction workers are awarded higher workers' compensation settlements in Illinois than Hispanic or black construction workers with similar injuries and disabilities, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.
The disparity amounted to approximately $6,000 more for white non-Hispanic claimants compared to minority workers in the same industry, says Lee Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC and lead author of the study, which was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The researchers assessed ethnic disparities among construction workers injured on the job by linking medical records data from the Illinois Department of Public Health and workers' compensation data from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission between 2000 and 2005.
The researchers evaluated a total of 1,039 cases (68 black, 168 Hispanic, 724 white and 79 other ethnicities.)
The settlements for white workers were substantially higher, despite controlling for average weekly wage, type of injury, injury severity, weeks of temporary disability, percent permanent partial disability, and whether or not the worker used an attorney -- all factors that are known to contribute to the final decision for monetary compensation in the claims process.