2016 presidential election dynamics in the workplace: Free speech? ‘You’re fired’

None of us are immune from this year’s presidential election dynamics. Disrespect and name-calling seem more prevalent than policy discussions. The election is highly polarizing, potentially pitting employee against employee. In the midst of it all, employees are often misinformed regarding their “free speech rights” in the workplace. A recent instance from Georgia should serve…

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Employee fired while on FMLA leave: Why it was OK

Don’t get me wrong: Firing an employee while they are on a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) absence is dicey. But, as a recent federal appeals court decision that covers Oklahoma employers demonstrates, there are circumstances when an employer should terminate the employee while on leave and can win a lawsuit brought by the…

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DOL issues final rule on paid sick leave for federal contractors

On September 7, 2015, President Obama signed Executive Order 13706, an order that requires federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued its long-awaited final rule setting forth the details of that obligation. The rule will apply to all contracts issued on or after January…

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NLRB’s new ‘joint employer’ standard threatens business interests

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) demonstrated intent to change the traditional employer-employee relationship to broaden unionization in the United States in a series of cases over the last year. In three cases, the NLRB has jettisoned long-standing case law recognizing that separate employers have separate workforces even when the employers work together at a…

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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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