By Ken Reed

California Assembly Bill 1309 is designed to prevent NFL players and other professional athletes from suing in California courts to get workers’ compensation for injuries occurring on the job.

Where did such a bill come from? One needs to look only as far as NFL owners and executives for an answer.

As Dave Zirin writes in a recent column on this issue:

“For years, the NFL has lobbied to close what they call a ‘loophole’ because they don’t want players pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in California’s historically labor-friendly courts. Especially now, as thousands of former players are suing the league for the injuries they suffered while playing, they don’t want California courts deciding precedents that can be used in other courts.”

Professional athletes, in particular NFL players, are being singled out by this legislation and star quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady have jointly written an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle outlining their reasons for opposing the bill.

“There is no good reason for professional athletes to be singled out,” concluded Brees and Brady in the op-ed. “We pay our share to the state, we negotiated the costs of the insurance that covers the claims.”

This is clearly a social justice issue. As Brees and Brady point out, AB1309 unfairly focuses on pro athletes by “attempting to classify them differently than other interstate workers, such as pilots, migrant workers, construction workers or actors.”

The bill needs to be shot down; not just in the interest of protecting pro athletes but to prevent possible future legislation that could target other workers.

You can contact members of California’s Senate Labor Committee here to let them know what you think of this bill.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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