California: A Tribute to Hon. Susan V. Hamilton

California: A Tribute to Hon. Susan V. Hamilton

Susan V. Hamilton, a Deputy Commissioner of the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), retired at the end of 2011. Deputy Commissioner Hamilton had a long, productive and influential career in public service in many roles with the California Department of Industrial Relations, the state agency charged with protecting the rights of California workers.

Deputy Commissioner Hamilton had been Presiding Workers’ Compensation Judge of the San Francisco office of the WCAB from 1996 to 2008 when she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the WCAB. She was appointed workers’ compensation judge in 1988, working as the staff judge for the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) until 1993 when she transferred to the San Francisco district office of the WCAB. She worked as a special assistant to Administrative Director Richard Gannon from 2001 to 2004, during which period she played an important role in securing legislative changes that brought long-delayed increases in temporary and permanent disability compensation rates, cost of living increases, and user funding and better staffing for DWC.

Before being appointed as a judge, she worked as a staff attorney with the WCAB from 1983 to 1984 and as the supervising attorney representing the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund and the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund from 1985 to 1988.

Deputy Commissioner Hamilton took her undergraduate degree from Chico State College and her law degree from New College School of Law. After admission to the California State Bar in 1977, she worked in the San Francisco law firm of Hoffman and McGregor. She began her career in state service in 1978 as a staff attorney for California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. In 1981, she joined the legal staff of the California Labor Commissioner and represented workers in wage and hour litigation throughout Northern California.

Deputy Commissioner Hamilton has received many honors during her career, including being selected Judge of the Year by the Workers’ Compensation Section of the California State Bar in 2005. In 2001, she received a commendation from Governor Gray Davis for her service to the Department of Industrial Relations and was named Outstanding Employee of the DWC in 1996. She has been a member of the LexisNexis California Workers’ Compensation Editorial Board since 2000.

During her career in public service, Deputy Commissioner Hamilton was known by her colleagues and agency staff for her problem solving talents, her leadership skills, her dedicated and disciplined work-habits and her warm and sunny disposition. She was known to display unfailing courtesy to members of the public and litigants before the WCAB. Many attorneys and judges who continue to work in the system are grateful for the mentoring and support they received from Deputy Commissioner Hamilton.

Deputy Commissioner Hamilton has been an accomplished athlete for many years, competing in triathlons and marathons. She has also found time to do extensive traveling and anticipates doing a great deal more in her retirement.

She has been asked by Director of Industrial Relations Christine Baker to work on special projects for the department after her retirement.