The Sooner State of Oklahoma is home to over 3.6 million people and supports a growing economy worth approximately $134.6 billion a year, per a 2006 estimate. The low state tax rate, abundant natural energy resources (particularly natural gas) and burgeoning manufacturing, business, and finance sectors have catapulted Oklahoma forward. Aerospace industries, in particular, contribute significantly to OK’s bottom-line – pumping over $11 billion per year into the state’s coffers. OK stands at the vanguard of the wind energy industry. With the federal government more committed than ever to renewable energy, OK could see its economic landscape shift radically over the next decade, as oil and gas production gets tamped down and wind and alternative energy production ramps up.
The Oklahoma Human Rights Commission (OHRC) investigates and enforces discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment of state workers. According to OK law, it is illegal to discriminate in the domains of public accommodations, housing, and employment based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to: familial status, religion, color, disability, national origin, gender, race, and age. The OHRC collects complaints about discrimination, compiles reports, assesses trends, provides training modules, and investigates and enforces violations. The Commission was established by Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section 953, also known as Oklahoma’s Anti-discrimination Act. The OHRC’s website offers more information about the agency’s investigative process. The OHRC often works together with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to process cases, look for trends, and investigate large-scale employee mistreatment. The EEOC and OHRC have what's known as a “work sharing agreement” to support missions and establish clear jurisdictional boundaries.
Oklahoma was forged in a relatively lawless environment, as the tribulations of earlier settlers to the OK region attest. Today’s Oklahomans embrace that frontier spirit, which drives innovation and entrepreneurial activity. But OK employers nevertheless must abide by strict rules for hiring and firing, including:
- Wage and hour payments. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has established guidelines for how employers compensate their staff. Verboten practices include incorrectly categorizing employees as “exempt” from overtime, dishonestly altering timecards, and failing to distribute tip wages.
- Discrimination. Employers may not consider any of the aforementioned characteristics in their decisions to hire, fire, promote, or assign particular duties to employees.
- Retaliation. Employees have the right to assert their legal privileges when they believe their employers have violated them. In return, companies may not take retaliatory actions against these workers, such as reducing their hours or treating them in a hostile manner in the workplace.
If you’re an OK employee who’s suffered discrimination or retaliation, you may be able to take legal action against your boss or company for unfair practices. Doing so will help not only you, but it will help countless others who have suffered in silence at the hands of wrongdoing employers. An experienced local employment attorney can explain your rights to you in clear, plain language. Contact a qualified lawyer today to learn what actions you can take to get the treatment you deserve.