Oklahoma’s law on workers’ compensation retaliation claims has undergone several changes since the 2014 move from the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Act to the Oklahoma Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act (OAWCA). Since the OAWCA was first enacted, there have been many challenges made and many questions raised. At the end of May, the law was tweaked when the Oklahoma Legislature amended Section 7 – the part of the law that governs claims by current or former employees against employers for retaliation. Because of all the confusion, it might be time to run through the three major changes and explain the state of the law – at least the state of the law as it exists at this moment in time. Continue reading
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In 2014, the Oklahoma legislature repealed the WCA and passed the AWCA.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