Home > Uncategorized > BREAKING: 9th Circuit Rules on Animal Rights to Workers’ Compensation Case

BREAKING: 9th Circuit Rules on Animal Rights to Workers’ Compensation Case

As my dear readers will recall, two years ago, a curious lawsuit was filed in San Francisco by the “Society for Animal Rights in the Workplace” (SARW) on behalf of animals, both agricultural and as domestic service animals, throughout California.

The lawsuit alleged, to the amusement and disbelief of many side-line observers, that animals performing work, such as guide dogs, tour-guide horses, and cows, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

“Our furry friends deserve our protection” Jack Vangerf, speaker for SARW said on the courthouse steps of the 9th circuit, yesterday.  “We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Cows say ‘moo’ horses say ‘neigh’ and we say ‘no more!’”   The defendant in this bizarre lawsuit was the State of California and the Department of Insurance, which had, heretofore, been unwilling to enforce workers’ compensation laws for the protection of animals.

I Can Has Obedience School Voucher?

I Can Has Obedience School Voucher?

Judge Robert Arten, of the San Francisco District Federal Court dismissed the case.  In his opinion, he acknowledged that animals can be loyal, productive, useful, and at times, delicious, but that does not make them “workers” as contemplated by California’s constitution or the Labor Code.

On appeal, however, the 9th Circuit reversed, ruling instead that California cannot discriminate between the working man and the working animal. Writing for the majority, recently appointed Judge Koztka of the 9th Circuit held “Neither California nor common sense distinguish between the man working in the field and the animals working at his side.  They are both entitled to all the benefits of the Workers’ Compensation Act.”  He continued: “if an agricultural or domestic employer wants to arrange an ‘independent contractor’ term with his service animal, then, obviously, that arrangement would fall outside of the Workers’ Compensation laws, but unless that is properly established, the plaintiffs have a case.”

Your humble blogger reached out to one of the real parties in interest in this case, and she had this to say:

Powerful words.

California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, responded to the news by saying “Was that a real thing? How did you get in here? Security!”  Meanwhile, the California Chamber of Commerce has urged all agricultural entities, owners of horse-drawn buggies, as well as any persons relying on service animals to quickly purchase workers’ compensation insurance in the event the 9th Circuit’s ruling holds.

Your humble blogger however, urges calm and wishes his beloved readers a Happy April 1st, 2015.

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