Taneka’s Law Eliminates Ambiguity Over Definition of Personal Relationship as Basis for Denying Workers’ Comp Claim

Taneka’s Law Eliminates Ambiguity Over Definition of Personal Relationship as Basis for Denying Workers’ Comp Claim

Today, with the signing of AB 1093, Taneka Talley’s senseless death has a bittersweet epilogue. Justice has been served for the Talley family, and her son should know that a California law in his mother’s name will live on to protect others who might find themselves in such tragic circumstances– Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Solano)

California AB 1093, authored by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Solano), has become law with the Governor’s signature.  AB 1093 clarifies that a workers’ compensation claim cannot be denied based solely on a personal characteristic of a victim and a perpetrator’s hatred of that characteristic — such as race, religion, or gender.

“No victim of a hate crime while on-the-job should be denied workers’ compensation benefits,” stated Yamada.  “With this law now on the books, no other family will have to suffer the double pain of losing a loved one and being denied claims benefits because of a hate-motivated act.”

Assemblymember Yamada introduced AB 1093 in February in response to the death of Taneka Talley, a 26-year-old African American woman who was stabbed to death in 2006 while working at a Dollar Tree Store in Fairfield. The company’s insurer denied the workers’ compensation death benefits to Ms. Talley’s son, who was 8 years old at the time, claiming that because the perpetrator intended to “kill a black person that day” there was a personal connection between Ms. Talley and her aggressor. Following a public outcry last November and widespread media coverage, Dollar Tree’s insurance company paid death benefits to the family nearly three years after Ms. Talley’s death.

This law will resolve the vagueness in workers’ compensation law that allowed the Dollar Tree’s insurer to initially deny Ms. Talley’s family’s claim.  The attorney representing Talley’s family brought the need for legislative action to Assemblymember Yamada’s attention at the beginning of the 2009 legislative session.

Yamada has had a long track-record in civil rights advocacy throughout her career.

Assemblymember Yamada represents the state’s 8th District, where the attack on Ms. Talley occurred. Her accused killer, Tommy Joe Thompson of West Sacramento, was tried for murder and convicted in April in Solano County.

This law will become effective on January 1, 2010.

Read an interview with Assemblymember Yamada about AB 1093