Oklahoma prohibition on same-sex marriages found unconstitutional

by Charles S. Plumb

The last several months have witnessed a flurry of court activity regarding same-sex marriage laws. On Tuesday, January 14, Oklahoma joined that activity with an order and opinion issued by Tulsa’s federal court.

In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution defining “marriage” to be exclusively a union between a man and a woman. In some respects, the Oklahoma constitutional amendment tracked the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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Oklahoma workplace tobacco law revisions effective November 1

by Charles S. Plumb

Effective November 1, 2013, two Oklahoma statutes governing how an employer addresses tobacco use in its workplace or by its employees will be revised.

Under the new 21 Okla. Stat. § 1247, lighted tobacco products in any form are prohibited in indoor workplaces. With a few exceptions, this prohibition includes work areas, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways. An Oklahoma employer may choose to provide its workforce with a smoking room so long as no work is performed in the room and it is fully enclosed and exhausted directly to the outside. Employers should post notices informing employees and guests that the workplace is tobacco-free.

While employers have the right to prevent employees from using tobacco products in the workplace, since 1991, state law has prohibited Oklahoma employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on their use of tobacco during nonworking hours. This prohibition applies to discrimination against tobacco users regarding their compensation or any other terms or conditions of employment.

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New Oklahoma law confirms enforceability of nonsolicitation agreements

Although noncompetition agreements remain unenforceable under state law, a new law confirms that Oklahoma employers may enforce agreements prohibiting former employees from soliciting a company’s employees to leave their jobs to work for another employer.

For some time, Oklahoma employers have been able to contractually prohibit former employees from soliciting workers for a reasonable period of time, but Senate Bill 1031 confirms and reinforces such prohibitions by codifying that a nonsolicitation provision is not an unlawful restraint of trade. Under the law, employers may have contracts that prohibit employees or independent contractors from directly or indirectly soliciting employees or contractors to become employees for another organization.

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Supreme Court ruling bolsters use of mandatory arbitration

by Charles S. Plumb

Employers requiring employees to submit disputes to mandatory arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit got a boost from a November 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Oklahoma case.

In the case, two employees of Nitro-Lift, a provider of services to oil and gas well operators, left their jobs to work for a competitor. The two had signed confidentiality and noncompetition agreements that included a clause requiring the parties to submit disputes to mandatory arbitration.

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New Oklahoma law allows ammo in locked cars parked at work

by Charlie Plumb

An Oklahoma law going into effect on November 1 allows employees to store ammunition in their locked vehicles parked at work.

A key aspect of Oklahoma’s Self-Defense Act allows people with valid gun licenses to carry handguns openly as well as concealed weapons in many public places. But another part of the open-carry law affects how people can store ammunition in their cars. The bill was signed by Governor Mary Fallin on November 15.

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Oklahoma Employees May Have Misconceptions About New ‘Open Carry’ Law

May 17, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Charlie Plumb

Effective November 1, 2012, Oklahoma handgun owners will be permitted to carry their firearms more freely than before. Yet contrary to some popular belief, the state’s new “open carry” bill (SB 1733) does have limitations. Though some employees may believe they now will have the right to carry guns while at work, that’s incorrect, and employers should be prepared to respond immediately.

Currently, the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act provides for the issuance of handgun licenses to qualifying Oklahomans and spells out the parameters and restrictions governed by the Act. Under the new law amending the Act, which Governor Mary Fallin signed on May 15, those who have a valid handgun license now will have the right to carry a handgun, concealed or unconcealed (“open carry”), in many public locations beginning November 1.

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Categories: Oklahoma

Emotional Distress Claims: a Future Trend in Oklahoma?

October 25, 2011 - by: Wendi Watts 0 COMMENTS

By Charles S. Plumb

On November 1, changes to the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act will go into effect that substantially restrict the ability of former employees to sue their employers for wrongful discharge in personal injury claims. But a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision may encourage employees’ lawyers to pursue intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against employers as a way to compensate for the new limitations on the ability to file wrongful discharge lawsuits.

In the case, Camran Durham, a 16-year-old employee at a McDonald’s restaurant, took prescription antiseizure medication during the day. During one of his shifts, he asked his manager three times to allow him to take his medication, but the manager refused each request and called him a “f____ing retard.” The employee left work crying and never returned. His mother reported that he was depressed and introverted, slept all day, and had to be homeschooled.

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Categories: Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Voters Say ‘Yes’ to Health Care Choice

November 04, 2010 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Voters in Oklahoma decided to show their disapproval of the insurance mandate found in federal health care reform by passing a health care choice measure on Election Day. The initiative allows Oklahoma residents to opt out of health care mandates by prohibiting laws that would make residents, employers, or health care providers participate in a health care system.

Appeals Court Rejects Key Provisions of Oklahoma Immigration Law

February 03, 2010 - by: HR Hero 1 COMMENTS

By Charles S. Plumb

Yesterday’s ruling by a federal court of appeals stops enforcement of key portions of Oklahoma’s sometimes controversial immigration law known as House Bill 1804. First, a brief history.

House Bill 1804 went into effect on November 1, 2007, and its business-related immigration provisions were immediately challenged in court. On June 4, 2008, an Oklahoma City federal court ruled the following aspects of the law couldn’t be enforced: read more…

Oklahoma Immigration Law Passes Test

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Oklahoma’s immigration law, House Bill 1804, contains a number of employment provisions, including limitations on terminating employees while knowingly retaining unauthorized workers and requiring verification of employees’ legal work status. On February 11, 2009, Tulsa District Court Judge Jefferson D. Sellers ruled that the immigration law’s employment provisions don’t violate the Oklahoma Constitution.

Oklahoma employers should keep in mind that in June 2008, an Oklahoma City federal court held that the Oklahoma immigration law’s employment provisions shouldn’t be enforced because they violated federal law. That ruling is presently on appeal to the federal court of appeals in Denver.

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Categories: Immigration / Oklahoma