From serving drinks in the bustling nightlife of Downtown New Bedford when he was a bartender, to making injured workers whole again with his passionate legal advocacy as a workers' comp attorney, State Representative Chris Hendricks of the 11th Bristol District is bringing his working-class experiences to Beacon Hill.

These experiences have not only shaped his political philosophy, but have guided him to codify comprehensive responses in addressing the plights of workers across the Commonwealth. Most notably, Hendricks has recently crafted and filed emergency legislation that would take care of those most at risk during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

HD4949, filed by Hendricks, would create a legal rebuttable presumption that emergency responders and medical workers diagnosed with COVID-19 had contracted it while on the job. This law would streamline the process for front-line essential workers filing for workers' compensation by alleviating their legal burden and entitling them to immediate wage relief and related medical care. The bill is currently being amended by Hendricks to include all hospital workers and grocery store workers as well.

“It is important that we streamline financial assistance for those on the front-lines who fall victim to COVID-19 while providing vital health care to our residents,” said Rep. Hendricks. “This bill uses the law in place to quickly support these brave workers.”

Currently, the bill has 38 cosponsors and has been referred to the Labor and Workforce Development Committee in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. This is one of multiple bills regarding the rights injured claimants in workers' compensation cases that have been proposed by Hendricks in his first term as state rep. He’s also proposed H.3590 which aims to increase the wages for injured workers, and H.1636 to lift the cap on disfigurement awards.

These legislative initiatives are commensurate with Hendricks' professional experience and expertise. Since 2015, Hendricks has been a practicing attorney specializing in all areas of workers’ compensation cases, including Conciliations and Conferences before Administrative Judges at the Department of Industrial Accidents, Social Security Disability, and Accidental Disability Retirement.

Now, Hendricks is applying his in-depth knowledge of the issues and his vigorous advocacy for the working people to ensure that thousands of people who have put themselves in harm's way to serve the community at this critical moment can be taken care of in their time of need.

In 2018, Hendricks ran an enthusiastic and tireless campaign that lead to one of the most stunning electoral upsets in recent memory here on the SouthCoast, and he’s taken that energy to the State House. The workers of the Commonwealth will be better off because of it.

Marcus Ferro is an attorney practicing in New Bedford and a weekly contributor to The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM. Contact him at marcusferrolaw@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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