There has been a battle between attorneys since the Oklahoma legislature adopted the Oklahoma Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (AWCA) February 1, 2014. Why? Well for years prior to that date, Oklahoma had the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA). Under the WCA, a traditional worker’s comp claim (one in which an employee sought compensation for injuries) was determined by the Worker’s Compensation Court, and claims of retaliation under that law were resolved in state district court.
In 2014, the Oklahoma legislature repealed the WCA and passed the AWCA.
With the passage of the AWCA, the Worker’s Compensation Commission was born. The Commission would hear traditional “comp claims”. It was also given “exclusive jurisdiction” to hear claims of discrimination or retaliation based upon a person exercising rights under the AWCA. If a person claims discrimination or retaliation for the exercise of rights under the AWCA, that person must file with the Commission (not a court) and the Commission, without a jury, is to determine the fate of the claim.
Suddenly, everyone was very concerned about whether the claim would fall under the WCA (a court proceeding with a jury) or the AWCA (heard before the Commission with no jury). Continue reading
On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed his Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American. It is important you read the fine print on this, like so many things these days that are reduced for the purposes of a hashtag.
This is an executive order. It does not apply to private businesses. It is not a law passed by Congress. It applies to the executive branch of the government. Moreover, despite its title, it does not reflect a preference for hiring “Americans” as such a preference would be illegal.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – a law passed by Congress in 1964 – prohibits discrimination in employment based upon, among other things, one’s national origin. Continue reading
By Kristen L. Brightmire
So what happened to cause Judge Dowdell to declare a jury’s verdict so unreasonable it had to be thrown out, a decision by the way which the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld? It’s an interesting story.
If you are from the Tulsa area, you are undoubtedly familiar with the El Tequila restaurants. In December 2010, an employee lodged a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL) which prompted an investigation into its Harvard location. As is often the case, a time was set for the DOL investigator to report, review records, and interview certain employees. As a result of this initial investigation, all seemed fine but for some recordkeeping violations. The investigation was closed.
In the following months, more employees complained. The DOL opened a second investigation. This round, the DOL decided a surprise visit was warranted. Lo and behold, the DOL discovered a different set of records revealing violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees were not being paid minimum wage or overtime for the hours they were working. The records the DOL had reviewed previously had been doctored.
The employee interviews were different as well. The employees not only said they worked hours for which they were not properly compensated, they told the DOL investigator they had been instructed by owner Aguirre to lie during the first investigation.
By Kristen L. Brightmire
These are interesting times in which we are living to be sure. Political activism is seeing an uptick. On Friday, February 17, we saw the General Strike which was designed to be a nationwide protest against President Trump. Also touted as a Day without Immigrants, it was a call for persons to stop working and instead join a demonstration or participate in a service project. Another similar strike is gearing up for Wednesday, March 8.
There were other stories about how employers and employees handled these issues, and we were called upon to advise clients as well. Without commenting on any specific situations for obvious reasons, it is important to talk about this issue.
You should expect it will come up again, perhaps as soon as March 8. Before then, you should think through some of these issues and how you will respond.
By Kristen L. Brightmire on February 1, 2017
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I made a decision. I needed to try something new professionally. For years, I have admired my friend Jon Hyman’s blog, http://www.ohioemployerlawblog.com/p/about-jon-hyman.html. While I am not going to attempt to replicate his by any means, I liked the idea of having a way to communicate more quickly. So without further ado, the blog is launched.