How the current NFL referee situation serves as a warning for injured workers in Michigan. Coming changes to the magistrate appointment process.
Nydailynews.com reports on the anger surrounding the NFL replacement referee who took away a victory from the Green Bay Packers based upon a blown call. Turns out this man has no professional or major college refereeing experience and is a full-time banker. He was called in when the regular NFL referees were locked out based upon a contract dispute.
So how does this story relate to workers compensation in Michigan? Injured workers may soon have their cases decided by replacement magistrates with no experience in workers compensation law.
House Bill 5002
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know we are not big fans of House Bill 5002. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Brad Jacobsen (Oxford) and was passed by the Republican controlled majority. It radically changes how Michigan’s workers compensation law operates.
In the past, an individual who wanted to be a magistrate needed to be approved by a qualifications advisory committee. A candidate was required to demonstrate significant experience in the field or pass a written examination.
House Bill 5002 abolished the experience requirement and makes the selection of magistrates a strictly political decision. Term limits were also eliminated so new magistrates could serve indefinitely and at the discretion of the governor.
Starting in January 2013, nine out of seventeen magistrate terms are scheduled to expire. This means that the governor can select more than half of the state wide magistrates based upon his own personal judgment.
Our concern is that these positions will be filled with political appointees. Some with ties to special interest groups who have an agenda to deny benefits.
It is absolutely critical that the role of magistrate remain impartial and not be influenced by political or special interests. The job of a magistrate is tough enough and we need experienced people to decide these cases.
To speak with one of our work injury attorneys in Michigan, call (855) 221-COMP for a free consultation. We are committed to protecting your legal rights.
- Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.