As the debate over the high cost of California’s workers’ compensation system intensifies, a documentary by Santa Clara University Professor Yahia Mahamdi reportedly promises to add a new perspective on the issue: the struggle faced by injured workers as they try to obtain benefits due to them.
“Thank You For Your Patience” presents the real-life stories behind the crisis of the workers’ comp system in California. Featuring testimonies by several injured workers, the film documents their attempts to navigate the system and adds a vital human component to the debate about the Worker’s Compensation system. The film will be shown Tues., April 20 at 7 p.m. at SCU’s Center for Performing Arts, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. A short version of the film has been sent to legislators in Sacramento.
“Thank You For Your Patience” focuses on four workers – an American administrative assistant, a Chinese PC-board assembly worker, a Mexican landscaper, and an aspiring film maker – who were injured at work, denied benefits by their employers and insurance companies, and who have spent years negotiating the maze of the Workers’ Compensation system. Two of the workers are long-term clients of SCU School of Law’s Community Law Center. SCU law students who worked at the Center were involved with the production of the film, and undergraduates from the communication department served as production assistants.
The film is devoted to the ordeals of these individuals, but it also investigates the crisis of the workers’ comp system through a range of testimonies from injured workers as well as from lawyers and law school students who work pro-bono to advise workers on their cases. The film is a tribute to these workers, chronicling their physical and emotional pain as they struggle to regain their lives.
Mahamdi, who received a grant from the university to make the film, said he feels very strongly about workers rights. “Workers’ compensation is about more than just rising premiums and the bottom line,” he said. “It is about the tragedy that workers go through once they are injured.” Mahamdi started the project at the suggestion of a professor at the law school’s free legal clinic for low-income residents. “It’s extremely difficult to navigate the workers’ comp system,” he said. “Instead of healing people, it further traumatizes people and their families.”
Mahamdi is associate professor in communication at Santa Clara University where he teaches film making, film history and criticism.
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