Articles

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Misclassification of workers just got riskier for Oklahoma employers

For years, we have been warning employers of the dangers of misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees. Information-sharing among agencies on the rise The federal government shows no signs of backing away from enforcement here. Between 2008 and 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) hired 2,000 investigators, doubling its number. To…

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Must be qualified to apply

When someone contends they have been discriminatorily denied employment, whether the individual was truly qualified often becomes the primary issue. To defeat a discriminatory failure-to-hire claim, the employer must establish the individual did not meet requirements that were explained, essential to the position, and uniformly applied to all candidates. Truck driver successfully battles cancer Mark…

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Lessons in dealing with an ‘equal opportunity’ harasser

A new opinion released by the Tenth Circuit provides practical tips to employers dealing with multiple employee complaints alleging generalized harassment and/or discrimination throughout the workplace. Animal shelter scene of ‘real-life soap opera’ For approximately 10 years, plaintiff Karen Bird worked for the West Valley City, Utah, animal shelter. Approximately a year after she was…

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Court rules unauthorized absence justifies firing

The federal appeals court that covers Oklahoma recently ruled in favor of Dillon Companies, Inc., a Kansas corporation that does business as King Soopers, in a lawsuit filed by a former grocery store employee who claimed he suffered a hostile work environment and was terminated because of racial discrimination. Injured employee fired for refusing to…

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Attack on waivers of class action claims

Some companies ask their employees to sign arbitration agreements requiring them to arbitrate any disputes about their employment, rather than filing a lawsuit against the employer in a state or federal court. A few years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that waivers of class action claims in non-employment settings were enforceable. That led to…

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Revisiting the direct threat defense under the ADA

One of the defenses available to an employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the idea that an accommodation of a qualified individual with a disability cannot be made when the employee poses a “direct threat to the health or safety” of themselves or others. A “direct threat” involves a significant risk of…

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Tenth Circuit rules in favor of airline in discrimination case when employee’s mistake leads to his termination

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled for Delta Airlines in an appeal by a former employee who claimed he was terminated because of racial and national origin discrimination. Airline fires employee after plane damaged Maahnchooh Ghogomu worked for Delta Airlines at the Tulsa International Airport. At the Tulsa International Airport, every Delta flight…

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Female deputy’s different treatment poses problem for sheriff

For many years, law enforcement was a male-dominated profession. Recently, police and sheriff departments have made strides to increase the number of female officers. All employers must ensure they are treating male and female employees the same when it comes to terms and conditions of employment. The sheriff of Canadian County, Oklahoma, received a recent…

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Summertime, and the Livin’ is…well, potentially complicated

Ah…summertime. It’s finally here. The long days, the slower pace. Vacations, hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, and the ever-present risk of legal exposure. Huh? That’s right, summertime also ushers in different types of employment relationships that can get employers into trouble. Let’s review three potential culprits. First up, the “summer intern” So energetic! So…

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