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Williams v. Workers Compensation Board (5/19/95), 895 P 2d 99
Notice: This opinion is subject to correction before
publication in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are
requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk
of the Appellate Courts, 303 K Street, Anchorage,
Alaska, 99501, telephone (907) 264-0607, fax (907) 276-
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
MARY ANN WILLIAMS, )
) Supreme Court No. S-5722
) Superior Court No.
v. ) 3AN-92-4757 CI
STATE OF ALASKA, DEPARTMENT ) O P I N I O N
OF REVENUE, and ALASKA )
WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD, ) [No. 4208 - May 19, 1995]
Petition for Review from the Superior
Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial
District, Anchorage, Joan M. Katz, Judge.
Appearances: William J. Soule, Law
Office of William J. Soule, Anchorage, for
Appellant. Kristin S. Knudsen, Assistant
Attorney General, Anchorage, and Charles E.
Cole, Attorney General, Juneau, for
Before: Moore, Chief Justice,
Rabinowitz, Matthews, Compton and Eastaugh,
Mary Ann (Andrade) Williams, whose claim for stress-
related mental injuries was denied by the Alaska Workers'
Compensation Board (Board), argues that AS 23.30.120(c) and AS
23.30.265(17) are unconstitutional. The superior court rejected
that argument. We treat Williams' appeal as a petition for
review and affirm.1
II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Williams, who had held other state jobs since 1974,
began working for the State of Alaska, Child Support Enforcement
Division (CSED) in 1977. She was a clerk for CSED until 1979,
when she was promoted to Child Support Enforcement Officer I.
She became a supervisor with the title of Child Support
Enforcement Officer II in 1980. Her general duties included
preparing intrastate paternity orders and Uniform Reciprocal
Enforcement Support Act cases, supervising a team of four people,
reviewing case files, distributing the work load to typists,
taking telephone calls, preparing affidavits, calculating AFDC
arrearages, and meeting walk-in clients.
She became the only paternity establishment officer
when a paternity unit was added to CSED in 1987. Williams
coordinated paternity establishment, set up blood testing
throughout the state, arranged travel and accommodations for
clients, and dealt with problem clients who were having blood
In April 1990 Williams was told that her team needed to
file paternity complaints in all its cases by October 1, 1990, to
comply with the Family Support Act of 1988. There were
approximately 2,400 to 2,600 such cases. Williams testified she
found it difficult and stressful to file the required complaints
as requested and complete her other work. She also testified
that the absence of clerical support staff, the inadequacy of the
physical work environment, and the perceived lack of management
support created stress for Williams.
Beginning in 1974, Williams sought treatment for
gastrointestinal problems, chronic stress anxiety, chronic
fatigue, depression, and other problems. During the following
years, Williams saw a number of doctors and psychologists. She
claimed she felt disoriented, unable to concentrate, very warm,
not able to get enough air, panicked, and helpless. She had
those feelings primarily while working, however, before quitting
her employment in July 1990, she also began to feel that way when
not working. She testified, "It had gotten to the point that I
was having problems making everyday decisions. As far as putting
things into priority order, I just felt overwhelmed. I just
would become very anxious."
Williams experienced stress in her personal life as
well. In late 1986 her son was arrested for transporting
cocaine. In the first half of 1987, her brother-in-law and
mother died. Her son and daughter-in-law divorced in late 1986
and engaged in a painful child custody battle. Her daughter-in-
law was awarded shared custody of Williams' granddaughter, and
moved out of state in 1988. Williams also experienced stress in
her relationship with her husband.
In late March 1990 Williams committed to leave state
service. She testified that she had decided retirement was
"probably the only option that I had. Because I knew I was not
going to be able . . . to stay in the system that much longer."
In April 1990 Williams requested removal from the
general CSED work force (supervising and public contact) and
asked to work on a special project part time until her October
1990 intended retirement date. She apparently worked on the
special project, but maintained her other work responsibilities,
primarily attempting to bring all the cases into compliance with
the Family Support Act by October 1990.
Williams retired under the state's Retirement Incentive
Program (RIP) on July 2, 1990. Three days later, she filed a
report of occupational injury or illness with the Board, claiming
that numerous stress-related physical and mental injuries arose
from her employment.
The State controverted Williams' claim, asserting she
had not suffered a compensable injury or illness arising out of
and in the course of her employment. Williams applied for
adjustment of claim, claiming temporary total disability benefits
from July 2, 1990, when she retired, permanent partial disability
benefits, medical costs, transportation costs, vocational
rehabilitation benefits, interest, attorney's fees and litigation
costs. Following hearing, the Board dismissed all of her claims.
Williams appealed to the superior court. Alaska R.
App. P. 602. The court rejected Williams' claim that AS
23.30.120(c) and AS 23.30.265(17) were unconstitutional and
affirmed the Board's denial of benefits for the mental injury
claim. The court remanded Williams' physical injury claim for
reconsideration or factual findings by the Board.
Before this court Williams argues that the statutes are
unconstitutional, and that it was error to affirm the denial of
her stress-related mental injury claim.
In 1988 the legislature enacted comprehensive changes
to the existing Alaska Workers' Compensation Act (Act). In part,
those amendments altered the definition of "injury"with respect
to mental injuries caused by work-related mental stress. AS
The 1988 amendments also eliminated the presumption of
compensability for stress-induced mental injury claims. AS
126.96.36.199 Williams asks us to declare those amendments
unconstitutional. She asserts that AS 23.30.120(c) deprives her
of equal protection and substantive due process because it
requires the Board to treat workers with mental injuries
differently from workers with physical injuries. She also argues
that AS 23.30.265(17) is unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous,
violating procedural due process.4
A. Substantive Due Process
Williams argues that when we addressed mental stress
claims before the Act was amended in 1988, we rejected for mental
injury cases, a "greater than all employees must experience"
stress rule. According to Williams, that rule is the same
standard the legislature codified in AS 23.30.265(17). In
support, Williams relies on Fox v. Alascom, Inc., 718 P.2d 977
(Alaska 1986) (Fox I), and Wade v. Anchorage School District, 741
P.2d 634 (Alaska 1987).
In Fox I, the injured employee suffered a mental
disability due to non-traumatic gradual work-related stress. The
Board required her to show that her stress was greater than the
stress which all employees experienced. Fox I, 718 P.2d at 980.
There is an inherent difficulty,
however, in determining whether a mental
disorder "arises out of" employment. The
problem is simply that "the body of knowledge
regarding mental or emotional injuries is not
certain enough to make rational
determinations as to the true nature, extent
and cause of injury."
Id. at 980-81 (quoting Sara J. Sersland, Mental Disability Caused
by Mental Stress: Standards of Proof in Workers' Compensation
Cases, 33 Drake L. Rev. 751, 752 (1983-84)). We stated that
"[i]t is this inherent difficulty in proving causation that has
led courts in many jurisdictions to impose additional
definitional limits on the compensability of mental injury caused
by mental stress by looking 'objectively' at the type and/or
degree of the stress." Id. at 981. However, we rejected the
"extraordinary and unusual"test as "neither essential nor even
germane to the legislative requirement that the injury 'arise out
of' the employment."5 Fox I, 718 P.2d at 982.
In Fox v. Alascom, Inc., 983 P.2d 1154 (Alaska 1989)
(Fox II), we acknowledged that the "legislature overruled this
court's decision on this issue by passing legislation creating
substantially greater requirements for obtaining compensation for
mental injury caused by mental stress than for other injuries."6
Id. at 1156 n.2. We did not address the constitutionality of the
changes in AS 23.30.265(17) or AS 23.30.120(c). We do so now.
In Municipality of Anchorage v. Leigh, 823 P.2d 1241
(Alaska 1992), we described the analytical process for
determining whether a workers' compensation statute violates
substantive due process.
Substantive due process is denied
when a legislative enactment has no
reasonable relationship to a legitimate
governmental purpose. It is not a court's
role to decide whether a particular statute
or ordinance is a wise one; the choice
between competing notions of public policy is
to be made by elected representatives of the
people. The constitutional guarantee of
substantive due process assures only that a
legislative body's decision is not arbitrary
but instead based upon some rational policy.
A court's inquiry into
arbitrariness begins with the presumption
that the action of the legislature is proper.
The party claiming a denial of substantive
due process has the burden of demonstrating
that no rational basis for the challenged
legislation exists. This burden is a heavy
one, for if any conceivable legitimate public
policy for the enactment is apparent on its
face or is offered by those defending the
enactment, the opponents of the measure must
disprove the factual basis for such a
Id. at 1244 (quoting Concerned Citizens of South Kenai Peninsula
v. Kenai Peninsula Borough, 527 P.2d 447, 452 (Alaska 1974)).
The legislature's intent in enacting the stress-induced
mental injury amendments is clear. Section 1 of the 1988 session
law amending the Act provides:
(a) It is the intent of the legislature
that AS 23.30 be interpreted so as to ensure
the quick, efficient, fair, and predictable
delivery of indemnity and medical benefits to
injured workers at a reasonable cost to the
employers who are subject to the provisions
of AS 23.30.7
Ch. 79, 1, SLA 1988. The legislature made a rational policy
decision when it enacted the amendments adopting an objective
standard to determine whether mental injuries are compensable.
While both physical and mental injuries are real phenomena and
very important to those who suffer from them, the two maladies
are inherently different in ways that justify differential
treatment. It is generally easier to verify the existence of a
physical injury than a mental injury. Physical injuries are
often verifiable either empirically or with diagnostic tests. In
contrast, mental injuries are more difficult to verify because
the patient's description of his or her condition is often the
sole basis for a physician's diagnosis. Consequently, the
difficulty in proving the existence of such an injury makes
mental injury claims more susceptible to fraud and abuse. In an
attempt "to ensure the quick, efficient, fair, and predictable
delivery"of medical benefits to injured workers, and to prevent
fraud and abuse, thereby reducing costs to employers, the
legislature, by enacting the 1988 amendment, removed the
presumption of compensability for mental injuries and enacted the
"extraordinary and unusual"test.
Williams fails to meet her heavy burden of
demonstrating that no reasonable basis exists for those
amendments. Thus she fails to demonstrate that the statutes
deprive her of substantive due process.
B. Equal Protection
Williams claims that these two statutes arbitrarily
distinguish between physically injured and mentally injured
workers, violating her rights of equal protection under the state
and federal constitutions. This claim substantially overlaps her
claim that these provisions violate substantive due process. See
Leigh, 823 P.2d at 1247 n.15. For the reasons stated in the
discussion of Williams' substantive due process claims, we
conclude that the definition of "injury"and the withdrawal of
the presumption for stress-related mental injuries do not violate
equal protection. In addition, a traditional equal protection
analysis demonstrates how Williams fails to show an equal
Alaska's equal protection clause may be more protective
of individual rights than the federal equal protection clause.
Gilmore v. Alaska Workers' Compensation Board, 882 P.2d 922, 926
(Alaska 1994); State v. Cosio, 848 P.2d 621, 629 (Alaska 1993);
State v. Anthony, 810 P.2d 155, 157 (Alaska 1991) (citing
Sonneman v. Knight, 790 P.2d 702, 706 (Alaska 1990)). In
analyzing equal protection issues under the Alaska Constitution,
we have rejected the traditional two-tiered federal approach in
favor of a more flexible "sliding scale" test. State v.
Erickson, 574 P.2d 1, 11-12 (Alaska 1978).
First, it must be determined . . . what
weight should be afforded the constitutional
interest impaired by the challenged
enactment. The nature of this interest is
the most important variable in fixing the
appropriate level of review . . . .
Second, an examination must be
undertaken of the purposes served by a
challenged statute. Depending on the level
of review determined, the state may be
required to show only that its objectives
were legitimate, at the low end of the
continuum, or, at the high end of the scale,
that the legislation was motivated by a
compelling state interest.
Third, an evaluation of the state's
interest in the particular means employed to
further its goals must be undertaken. . . .
At the low end of the sliding scale, we have
held that a substantial relationship between
means and ends is constitutionally adequate.
At the higher end of the scale, the fit
between the means and ends must be much
closer. If the purpose can be accomplished
by a less restrictive alternative, the
classification will be invalidated.
Alaska Pacific Assurance Co. v. Brown, 687 P.2d 264, 269-70
(Alaska 1984). See also Sonneman, 790 P.2d at 704.
Workers' compensation benefits are merely an economic
interest,8 and therefore, are entitled only to minimum protection
under this court's equal protection analysis. Gilmore, 882 P.2d
at 927. Since an employee's interest in workers' compensation
benefits is reviewed at the low end of the sliding scale, the
state's objectives in enacting AS 23.30.120(c) and AS
23.30.265(17) need only be legitimate. The statutes will "pass
constitutional muster if the classifications [they create] bear a
fair and substantial relationship to the purposes of the Act."
Gilmore, 882 P.2d at 927. As we noted above, the Act's purpose
is "to ensure the quick, efficient, fair, and predictable
delivery of indemnity and medical benefits to injured workers at
a reasonable cost to the employers who are subject to the
provisions of AS 23.30." Ch. 79, 1, SLA 1988. This is a
Williams argues that the distinction the statute draws
between physical injuries and stress-related mental injuries is
not sufficiently related to the state's goals. To prevail
against that claim, the state need only show that the distinction
bears a fair and substantial relationship to the Act's objective.9
Gilmore, 882 P.2d at 927. The fair and substantial relationship
test does not require a perfect fit between a legislative
classification and the government objective it is intended to
further. Anthony, 810 P.2d at 159.
The distinction between physically injured workers and
workers with stress-related mental injuries is substantially
related to the state's goal of efficiently and fairly
distributing benefits while cutting costs for employers.10 The
amendments eliminate unusually susceptible claimants and attempt
to minimize fraud and abuse in claims for stress-related mental
injuries, thereby saving employers money. Thus, the distinction
between physical and stress-related mental injuries in the
presumption of compensability does not violate the state's equal
protection guarantees.11 It is important to point out that the
legislature has not barred all claims of mental injury from
coverage. Rather, the 1988 amendments eliminate from coverage
only claims based on usual and ordinary pressures and tensions in
the work place.
C. Procedural Due Process
Williams also claims AS 23.30.265(17) deprives her of
procedural due process because it is vague.12 She contends that
the words "extraordinary and unusual," used in 265(17) to
describe "work stress"sufficient to make stress-caused mental
injury an "injury"compensable under the Act, are essentially
synonymous. She argues they provide no meaningful direction or
explanation in considering whether a particular "mental injury
caused by mental stress"is an "injury"or not. She argues that
stress is a subjective response to events and that, therefore,
the concepts of "extraordinary and unusual" are nonsensical
because they do not form a benchmark for any objective
measurement. She similarly asserts the statute's requirement
that the employee's work stress be compared with "pressures and
tensions experienced by individuals in [a] comparable work
environment"is useless in forming an "objective"criterion.
We consider three factors when reviewing criminal
statutes to determine whether they are void for vagueness.13
State v. Rice, 626 P.2d 104, 109 (Alaska 1981).
First, a statute may not be so
imprecisely drawn and overbroad that it
"chills" the exercise of first amendment
rights. The second consideration is that in
order to be consistent with notions of
fundamental fairness a statute must give
adequate notice of the conduct that is
prohibited. The final element in an analysis
of statutory vagueness is whether the
statute's imprecise language encourages
arbitrary enforcement by allowing prosecuting
authority undue discretion to determine the
scope of its prohibitions.
Id. (quoting Holton v. State, 602 P.2d 1228, 1235-36 (Alaska
These factors obviously have little or nothing to do
with the present case. First Amendment rights are not involved,
the statutes in question prohibit no conduct; and the statutes
give rise to neither prosecutorial action in a criminal context
nor a civil enforcement action where a litigant may be at risk of
losing an important right because the litigant's conduct did not
meet a certain standard.14 Assuming that there is a
constitutional bar of statutory vagueness in a case such as this,
where the statute merely sets a dividing line between instances
where compensation is payable and those where it is not, the bar
is easily overcome. All that should be required is legislative
language which is not so conflicting and confused that it cannot
be given meaning in the adjudication process. See Coghill v.
Coghill, 836 P.2d 921, 929 (Alaska 1992) (holding exceptions such
as "good cause"not unconstitutionally vague "so long as judges
and hearing commissioners continue to exercise their discretion
to achieve equitable results consistent with existing case law")
(quoting Fitzgerald v. Fitzgerald, 566 A.2d 719 (D.C. App.
The challenged "extraordinary and unusual . . .
pressures and tensions"language readily satisfies this test.
The language is no more general than numerous other terms which
have survived void for vagueness challenges. See, e.g., Coghill,
836 P.2d at 929 ("good cause"and "manifest injustice"); Storrs
v. State Medical Board, 664 P.2d 547, 549-50 (Alaska 1983)
("professional incompetence"); R.C. v. State, DHSS, 760 P.2d 501,
506 (Alaska 1988) (reviewing authorities which had upheld against
vagueness challenges such standards as "unfit," "improper,"
"neglected," "basic, essential and necessary needs," and
"reasonable parental care").
In Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, Hoffman
Estates, Inc., 456 U.S. 950 (1982), the United States Supreme
Court stated that a lower degree of exactitude is required for
civil than criminal statutes. The Court said:
The degree of vagueness that the
Constitution tolerates -- as well as the
relative importance of fair notice and fair
enforcement -- depends in part on the nature
of the enactment. Thus economic regulation
is subject to a less strict vagueness test
because its subject matter is often more
narrow, and because businesses, which face
economic demands to plan behavior carefully,
can be expected to consult relevant
legislation in advance of action. Indeed,
the regulated enterprise may have the ability
to clarify the meaning of the regulation by
its own inquiry, or by resort to an
administrative process. The Court has also
expressed greater tolerance of enactments
with civil rather than criminal penalties
because the consequences of imprecision are
qualitatively less severe.
Id. at 498 (footnotes omitted).
Another state court considered a due process vagueness
challenge to a similar workers' compensation statute regarding
physical stress. In Benoit v. Maco Manufacturing, 633 So.2d 1301
(La. App. 1994), the employee argued that the statute requiring
"the physical work stress [to be] extraordinary and unusual in
comparison to the stress or exertion experienced by the average
employee in that occupation"is so vague as to be incapable of
interpretation, and thus constituted a denial of due process.
Id. at 1305. Specifically, the employee complained that "average
worker" was not defined, and therefore it was impossible to
compare stress to the average worker. Id. The Louisiana Court
of Appeal stated that "the term 'average worker' takes its
literal meaning, namely a worker who is 'not out of the
ordinary.'" Id. (quoting Webster, New Collegiate Dictionary
(1981)). Thus, the court held that this term was not so vague as
to deny due process because it is clear and unambiguous,
requiring no further interpretation for its application and
enforcement. Id. Additionally, the court stated that "the test,
to determine if the physical stress is extraordinary, is to view
the plaintiff's activities as compared to the average worker in
his employment and not to just look at the plaintiff's day-to-day
Williams does not contend that the Board has engaged in
arbitrary or selective determinations of what constitutes stress-
related mental injury, nor does the record contain any such
evidence. Moreover, the statutory definition of stress-related
injury does not allow the Board undue discretion in determining
what constitutes such an injury. While the phrase, "the work
stress was extraordinary and unusual,"may appear vague at first
glance, a closer reading of the statute supplies specific
clarifying information. First, whether the employee's work
stress was extraordinary and unusual must be viewed in comparison
to pressures and tensions experienced by others in a comparable
work environment. AS 23.30.265(17). Next, the work stress must
be the predominant cause of the mental injury. Id.
Additionally, the amount of an employee's work stress is measured
by actual events. Id. Finally, the statute lists specific
situations in which a mental injury is not considered to arise
out of employment.
While the statute must necessarily address the subject
broadly because every employee's condition is different, it
provides specific information on how to determine whether a
stress related mental injury is in fact compensable under the
Act. It thus has meaning in itself and through the process of
adjudication this meaning will be enhanced. There will, of
course, always be borderline and difficult cases, but these are a
constant whenever a general standard is applied. We conclude
that AS 23.30.265(17) is not void for vagueness and that Williams
was not deprived of procedural due process.
We hold that AS 23.30.120(c) and AS 23.30.265(17) are
constitutional. We AFFIRM the superior court's resolution of the
1 The parties have erroneously characterized this matter
as an appeal. The superior court remanded to the Board "for
either reconsideration of its decision regarding [Williams']
physical injury or establishment of factual findings pertaining
to its decision." There was consequently no final, appealable
judgment. See City & Borough of Juneau v. Thibodeau, 595 P.2d
626, 629 (Alaska 1979) (holding that the decision of a superior
court acting as an intermediate appellate court, which reverses
the decision of an administrative agency and remands for further
proceedings, is not a final judgment for purposes of appeal).
Exercising our discretion, we treat this matter as a
petition for review and consider only the constitutional
questions. See, e.g., Thibodeau, 595 P.2d at 631; Leege v.
Strand, 384 P.2d 665, 666-67 (Alaska 1963); see also Alaska R.
App. P. 402(b)(2) (providing that a petition for review may be
granted when the "order or decision involves a controlling
question of law on which there is a substantial ground for
difference of opinion, and an immediate review of the order may
materially advance the termination of the proceeding in the other
2 AS 23.30.265(17) defines "injury"to mean:
accidental injury or death arising out
of and in the course of employment, and an
occupational disease or infection which
arises naturally out of the employment or
which naturally or unavoidably results from
an accidental injury; . . . "injury"does not
include mental injury caused by mental stress
unless it is established that (A) the work
stress was extraordinary and unusual in
comparison to pressures and tensions
experienced by individuals in a comparable
work environment, and (B) the work stress was
the predominant cause of the mental injury;
the amount of work stress shall be measured
by actual events; a mental injury is not
considered to arise out of and in the course
of employment if it results from a
disciplinary action, work evaluation, job
transfer, layoff, demotion, termination, or
similar action, taken in good faith by the
3 AS 23.30.120 provides in pertinent part:
(a) In a proceeding for the enforcement
of a claim for compensation under this
chapter it is presumed, in the absence of
substantial evidence to the contrary, that
(1) the claim comes within the
provisions of this chapter;
(2) sufficient notice of the claim
has been given;
(3) the injury was not proximately
caused by the intoxication of the injured
employee or proximately caused by the
employee being under the influence of drugs
unless the drugs were taken as prescribed by
the employee's physician;
. . . .
(c) the presumption of compensability
established in (a) of this section does not
apply to a mental injury resulting from work-
4 We review constitutional issues de novo and apply our
independent judgment. Arco Alaska, Inc. v. State, 824 P.2d 708,
710 (Alaska 1992). We adopt "the rule of law most persuasive in
light of precedent, reason, and policy." State v. Anthony, 810
P.2d 155, 156 (Alaska 1991) (quoting Guin v. Ha, 591 P.2d 1281,
1284 (Alaska 1979)).
5 In Wade v. Anchorage School District, 741 P.2d 634, 638
(Alaska 1987), we stated that in Fox I, we specifically examined
and rejected the "greater than all employees must experience"
test and rejected "any other additional 'objective' threshold
requirement." Additionally, in Wade we rejected the "unusual
stress in the profession test" which compares the stress
experienced by the claimant with that experienced by others in
the same profession. Id.
6 The House Judiciary Committee's sectional analysis for
the bill which proposed the 1988 amendments expressly states:
"This section [later to be codified at AS 23.30.265(17)] is
intended to override the Alaska Supreme Court rulings in Wade v.
Anchorage School District, 741 P.2d 634 (Alaska 1987), and Fox v.
Alascom, 718 P.2d 977 (Alaska 1986)." House CS for Senate Bill
No. 322 (L&C) Sectional Analysis, April 6, 1988, House Judiciary
Committee, at 18.
7 Before passing the 1988 amendments, the Senate
unanimously adopted the Labor and Commerce Committee Letter of
With an actuarial analysis concluding
that this bill will provide a two percent
savings in hard costs and an unquantifiable
amount of soft dollar savings, it is the
intent of the Alaska State Senate that, upon
passage of this bill, the Division of
Insurance request a new rate filing
reflecting a reduction in workers'
1988 Senate Journal 2420.
8 In Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 485 (1970), the
United States Supreme Court held that:
In the area of economics and social
welfare, a State does not violate the Equal
Protection Clause merely because the
classifications made by its laws are
imperfect. Absent a suspect or fundamental
classification, a statute will not be
overruled unless the varying treatment of
different groups or persons is so unrelated
to the achievement of any combination of
legitimate purposes that we can only conclude
that the legislature's actions were
irrational. Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93,
9 In Isakson v. Rickey, 550 P.2d 359, 362 (Alaska 1976)
(quoting State v. Wylie, 516 P.2d 142, 145 (Alaska 1973)
(footnote omitted)), we stated:
Under the rational basis test, in order
for a classification to survive judicial
scrutiny, the classification "must be
reasonable, not arbitrary, and must rest upon
some ground of difference having a fair and
substantial relation to the object of the
legislation, so that all persons similarly
circumstanced shall be treated alike."
We have upheld Alaska's workers' compensation scheme against an
equal protection challenge under the Alaska Constitution as
having a "rational basis--even under the 'less speculative, less
deferential, more intensified means-to-ends' application of that
test." Arctic Structures, Inc. v. Wedmore, 605 P.2d 426, 438
n.41 (Alaska 1979) (quoting Wright v. Action Vending Co., 544
P.2d 82, 87 (Alaska 1975) (footnote omitted)).
10 A 1988 research study by the California Workers'
Compensation Institute indicates that in California, which does
not employ the "extraordinary and unusual"test, stress claims
accounted for almost seventeen percent of all lost time injuries.
Arthur Larson, The Law of Workmen's Compensation 42-25(a), at 7-
11 "Since the federal equal protection clause is, if
anything, less protective of individual rights than the state
equal protection clause,"we conclude that the federal equal
protection clause has not been violated. Sonneman, 790 P.2d at
12 See supra, note 3.
13 "The 'void for vagueness' doctrine developed as an
aspect of due process jurisprudence in the context of criminal
statutes because it was thought unfair to impose criminal
punishment on persons for conduct of which they had no notice."
Phillips v. State Bd. of Regents of State University and
Community College System of State of Tennessee, 664 S.W.2d 45, 46
(Tenn. 1993) (citation omitted). The idea of fairness is the
basis of the doctrine, and "its purpose is only to provide 'fair
warning' of prohibited conduct. It is not designed to convert
into a constitutional dilemma the practical difficulties inherent
in drafting statutes." Id. In Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134
(1974), the United States Supreme Court extended the doctrine to
civil cases. In Arnett, the Court affirmed the dismissal of
civil service employees based upon a statutory standard which
provided "such cause as will promote the efficiency of the
service." Id. at 158. The Court recognized that "there are
limitations in the English language with respect to being both
specific and manageably brief"and stated that a non-criminal
statute is not unconstitutionally vague if the statute is set out
in terms such that an ordinary person exercising common sense can
sufficiently understand and comply. Id.
14 See, e.g., Storrs v. State Medical Board, 664 P.2d 547
(Alaska 1983) (loss of medical license); R.C. v. State, DHSS, 760
P.2d 501, 505-06 (Alaska 1988) (loss of parental rights).