Oklahoma Employment Law

Nearly everyone has employment law issues at some whether as an employee or an employer. I provide answers to questions about Oklahoma employment law – for both Oklahoma employers and Oklahoma employees.

4 things to do after terminating an employee

Are you an employer?  Have you ever terminated an employee or had an employee leave?

If the answer is “yes”, consider this checklist of things to do after terminating an employee:

1⃣.  Pay the final paycheck.  Oklahoma law requires an employee to pay the final paycheck by the date that paychecks would have regularly been paid.  There are substantial penalties if the check is not paid.  No offsets or deductions are allowed from the paycheck unless the employee has agreed in writing to them.

2⃣.  Recover company-owned property.  If the employee has a car, a phone, tools or other equipment, be certain to plan for the return of it prior to the employee’s final departure.

3⃣.  Eliminate security access.  If the employee has access to password-protected websites or any confidential company information, cut-off the employee’s access to reduce the risk of the unauthorized capture of information.

4⃣.  Remove employee as the point of contact.  Often, one employee is the point of contact for goods and services used and purchased by the company.  The vendors that provide these goods and services are familiar with the employee.  Upon the employee’s departure, contact the vendors and make arrangement for a new point of contact.  Sometimes this may require something in writing from the company to the vendor.

Are there other issues you have seen that need to be addressed when an employee leaves?

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

When does an Oklahoma employer have to pay a terminated employee his final paycheck?

Amtrak employee checks with the station at the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, May 1974

Your employment is over, terminated or quit, and now one of the questions on most people’s minds is: When do I get my final paycheck?

Under Oklahoma law, regardless of the reason for termination, an employer is required to pay the employee’s final wages in full, less any legal authorized offsets, at the next regular designated payday established for the pay period in which the work was performed either through the regular pay channels or by certified mail postmarked within the deadlines specified by law if requested by the employee.

There are substantial penalties for failing to pay wages even if you [the employer] believe you have a stellar reason for non-payment.  There are a few circumstances where a “bonafide disagreement” over what is due could relieve an employer from being penalized for failure to pay.

If you [the employer] think you have one of those rare, limited circumstances, consult an attorney.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

Explaining Federal Employment Law – The Series


I usually cover legal topics that I see in my practice, particularly if they are common issues small businesses confront. One of those of areas is federal employment law. You might recognize the area more rapidly through terms such as “sexual harassment” racial discrimination” or “wrongful termination.” All of these issue emenate from federal employment law, laws created in Washington, D.C. but applicable to many employers throughout the United States.

What businesses are covered by federal employment law? What types of things are prohibited under federal employment law? What can a business do to eliminate risks of violating federal employment law? Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading the series “Explaining Federal Employment Law”.

What is Federal Employment Law?

What areas are covered by Federal Employment Law?

Is your business covered by federal employment law?

What steps can employers take to protect themselves from employment law claims?

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Oklahoma Employment Law
Is your business covered by federal employment law?

Is your business covered by federal employment law?

In Friday’s post, I covered what types of conduct are regulated or prohibited by Federal Employment Law. The focus today is a critical one:

What Oklahoma employers are covered by Federal Employment Law?

Most employers with at least 15 full-time employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees for the age discrimination statute). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

What Oklahoma employers covered by Oklahoma law?

Yet, be cautious because if your business is not covered by federal employment statutes, there may be a state statute that covers you.  For example, in Oklahoma, the Discrimination Act prohibits a business of any size from discriminating against an employee based on an employee’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information or disability.  There are several types of businesses that are exempt from the Discrimination Act including a religious corporation, association, or society, Native American tribes or a bona fide membership clubs that are exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Service Law.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

What is Federal Employment Law?

Federal employment law is the body of laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President that cover a variety of employment issues throughout the United States, for employers who are covered under the size qualifications of the various laws. Some of the federal employment laws are:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;

Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;
Continue reading →

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

Oklahoma Business Law: Are breaks and lunch periods mandatory?

This guy could really use a break!

Q: Are breaks and lunch periods mandatory?
A: NO. Neither federal nor state law require employers to provide breaks to employees age 16 or older. Mandatory break laws only apply to children under the age of 16. Breaks and lunch periods are considered benefits and remain at the discretion of the employer.

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Source: Oklahoma Department of Labor



Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

Oklahoma Business Law: Can my employer deduct money from my paycheck?

Q: Can my employer deduct money from my paycheck?
A: Deductions can be legal, depending upon the circumstances. If you are concerned that your employer may be taking illegal deductions, you should contact the state Wage & Hour Unit for more information. Employers must sign a written agreement with employees in order to make legal deductions from employees= wages unless deductions are made pursuant to express statutory authority, such as state and federal tax withholdings and FICA, or pursuant to a prior valid final judgment by an employer against an employee.

For more Oklahoma business law tips, sign up for the email list below.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Labor

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law

Six things to consider before you terminate an employee

If you are a very fortunate employer, you may never have to terminate an employee. For most businesses though, things happen that require termination of employment. If you find yourself need to terminate an employee, consider the six guidelines listed before you terminate:

1. Severance. If you are going to pay severance and the employee is not already entitled to receive severance, you need to require the employee to sign a release in exchange for the severance. The release is the employee’s acknowledgment that he is giving up all claims against the company in exchange for a severance payment to which he would not have been entitled. This type of document provides some finality and protection for the company.

2. Contract Limitations. Determine if there are any obligations or rights that the employee has that would prevent you from terminating his employment in the manner in which you wish to do it. For instance, is there a written employment contract involved with this person? Has your company given the person any kind of rights through an employee policy manual or handbook? Is the employee currently experiencing any kind of issues such as a work-related injury that would make termination either unwise or illegal?

3. Equipment. Be certain before you inform the employee of termination that you either have all of the property back that the employee is using or you have a clear plan to get all of it back. Occasionally, I have seen employees who are terminated and upset about the situation take out their frustration by not returning employer equipment or making it very difficult for the employer to secure return. If you are going to ask for release, you might consider adding a line that says in exchange for the severance they have returned all equipment to the company.

4. Witness. When you actually inform the employee that he is being terminated, it is wise to have another person with you who can corroborate what actually happens if there is any kind of dispute.

5. Benefits. Does the company owe this employee any kind of accrued benefits such as PTO or vacation time? Sometimes, depending on the written documents or policy manual, the employee may have a right to receive this type of benefit upon termination. However, if there is no documentation promising the employee that he is entitled to receive the benefits, the company probably has no obligation to pay.

6. Cause for termination. Be careful how you express the cause for termination to the employee. Most employers I work with are good people and don’t want to go out of their way to make the employee feel bad. However, if you tell an employee they are being let go because there simply is not enough work and the reason is actually that the employee cannot do the work that you need, you are probably stuck with the stuck reason given. It is better to give no reason at all for termination rather than a reason not supported by the facts. This could come up in unemployment proceeding with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission or other post-employment proceedings. Unemployment cannot be waived but if there is a solid reason for termination related to some type of misconduct then there may be a basis to challenge in the award of unemployment.

If you need help on any of these issues when doing an Oklahoma employment termination, this is something I have a lot of experience with, please contact me.

Posted by Shawn Roberts in Blogposts, Business Law, Oklahoma Employment Law