Kathy Neal’s practice focuses on the representation of employers with respect to all aspects of their relationships with employees. She has broad experience in both state and federal courts, before administrative and regulatory agencies, and in arbitration and mediation. Kathy’s litigation expertise includes defense of claims of discrimination, wrongful and retaliatory discharge, breach of contract, enforcement of non-competition and confidentiality agreements, wage and hour disputes, and disputes over the payment of commissions.
A significant portion of her employment practice is also dedicated to educating, training and counseling clients on litigation avoidance strategies and compliance with state and federal laws and regulations affecting the workplace. In addition to being a frequent trainer, lecturer and writer on employment-related issues, Kathy routinely counsels clients in connection with employee discipline and terminations, wage and hour issues, employee handbooks and policies, drug and alcohol testing, employee leave and disability, and employment and post-employment agreements.
Kathy has assisted national and regional employers with the implementation of reductions-in-force and group severance programs requiring compliance with the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act and Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).
She has also defended organizations against claims of disability and race discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
Kathy has particularly unique experience counseling employers that are federal contractors on equal employment opportunity compliance-related matters overseen by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), representing employers in OFCCP audit proceedings, and defending employers undergoing investigation by the OFCCP for discrimination. If any violations are found, her representation includes negotiating reduced fines and penalties as part of the conciliation process.
In addition to her employment practice, Kathy has successfully litigated commercial claims involving such issues as breach of contract, fraudulent conveyances, bulk sales and manufacturers’ products liability.
Kathy currently serves as an adjunct settlement judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and previously served as an administrative law judge for the Oklahoma Department of Labor.
Kathy’s achievements have earned her inclusion in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, where she was described as “enormously intelligent and well thought of…” Researchers at Chambers & Partners also quoted market observers who praised her as “a great problem solver and a skilled writer.” She has also been recognized by Benchmark Litigation, The Best Lawyers in America (commercial litigation; employment law–management; labor law–management; labor and employment litigation) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers, which has named her to its lists of “Top 25 Women Lawyers” and “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers.” She was selected by Best Lawyers as the “Tulsa Employment Law (Management) Lawyer of the Year” for 2013 and 2017, “Tulsa Labor and Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2015, and “Tulsa Labor Law (Management) Lawyer of the Year” for 2016, honors given to a single lawyer in each legal specialty in each community.
Labor & Employment:
- Obtained a jury verdict in the Western District of Oklahoma in favor of a national retailer in a disabilities discrimination lawsuit.
- Obtained a jury verdict in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, in favor of a regional hospital in a race discrimination lawsuit.
- Obtained a verdict in the Eastern District of Oklahoma in favor a railroad company in a non-jury religious discrimination lawsuit.
- Successfully defended a regional hospital in the Northern District of Oklahoma in a same-sex discrimination lawsuit where the case was dismissed after jury trial began.
- Obtained a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) in Haskell County, Oklahoma, for a coal mining company in a workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge lawsuit after an adverse jury verdict.
- Successfully defended in the Western District of Oklahoma a national wastewater company in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.
- Successfully defended a county official in a series of race discrimination lawsuits alleging violation of civil rights and disparate impact and treatment in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
- Successfully defended grievances under collective bargaining agreements for a national forestry and paper products processing company.
- Successfully defended a private school in the Northern District of Oklahoma in a national origin discrimination lawsuit.
- Successfully prosecuted in Kay County, Oklahoma, claims against former employees unfairly competing with a national manufacturer of oilfield products.
- Successfully defended a nuclear fuels manufacturer in the Eastern District of Oklahoma in a WARN Act lawsuit.
- Successfully defended an integrated public energy company in an ERISA lawsuit in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
- Represented numerous employers before the Department of Labor with respect to wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the successful representation of a national restaurant chain in defending a lawsuit involving payment of its tipped employees.
Compliance and Investigations:
- Successfully represented a manufacturer and distributor of beverages with respect to a comprehensive compliance audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs by participating in the defense of alleged violations and conciliation negotiations. Negotiated a favorable conciliation agreement that significantly reduced the penalty proposed by the OFCCP.
- Obtained favorable jury verdicts in the Northern and Western Districts of Oklahoma in a series of breach of contract lawsuits against a private mortgage insurance company.
- Successfully defended in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, a national property developer with respect to claims of breach of contract, fraudulent conveyances and violations of Oklahoma’s Bulk Sales Act.
- Successfully defended in the Eastern District of Oklahoma a products liability claim against national manufacturer of burners involved in an explosion.
Honors and Awards
- Listed in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
- Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (commercial litigation; employment law – management; labor law – management; labor and employment litigation)
- Named “Tulsa Employment Law (Management) Lawyer of the Year” for 2013 and 2017, “Tulsa Labor and Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2015, and “Tulsa Labor Law (Management) Lawyer of the Year” for 2016 by The Best Lawyers in America
- Listed in Oklahoma Super Lawyers
- Named to Oklahoma Super Lawyers’ list of “Top 25 Women Lawyers” and “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers”
- Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings
- Honored with the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Mona Salyer Lambird Spotlight Award (2017)
- Inducted into the University of Tulsa College of Law Hall of Fame (2015)
- Honored with the University of Tulsa College of Law’s W. Thomas Coffman Award for Community Service (2015)
- Honored with the Tulsa County Bar Association’s Neil E. Bogan Award for Professionalism (2013)
- Named to the Tulsa Business Journal’s list of Power of Attorneys and Legal Professionals (2011)
- Honored with the Fern Holland Award by the University of Tulsa College of Law Women’s Law Caucus for her work with Springboard — Educating the Future, a non-profit organization responsible for building 200 schools for young girls in rural Egypt (2005)
Professional Organizations and Memberships
- Tulsa County Bar Association
- Oklahoma Bar Association
- The Law Society of Alberta, Canada
Civic Involvement and Leadership
- Springboard – Educating the Future (Board of Directors, 2005-2015)
- The Tristesse Healing Hearts Grief Center (Former Member, Board of Directors)
- Family & Children’s Services (Former Member, Board of Directors)
Gavel to Gavel: Faith and consequences
The Journal Record | June 11, 2015
Justice Department sues university in Oklahoma on behalf of transgender professor
EmployerLINC | April 8, 2015
The Journal Record | July 31, 2014
Amended Executive Orders expand employment discrimination prohibitions
EmployerLINC Employment Law Alert | July 31, 2014
Passing a DOT medical exam is a ‘marginal function’ of the job?
EmployerLINC | April 10, 2014
Discrimination and document abuse in the hiring process
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | May 2013
Reality of ‘open carry’
The Journal Record | November 1, 2012
Discrimination against an unknown disability?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | May 2012
Getting tough on contractors
The Journal Record | December 1, 2011
Age Discrimination: Back to the basics with discrimination claims
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | September 2010
Discrimination: Motherhood, the workplace, and Oklahoma law
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | June 2010
Discrimination: Another turn in the long and winding road of Oklahoma’s Burk tort
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | February 2010
Handling the competition of a departing employee
The Journal Record | October 15, 2009
Wage and hour law: Making deductions for lost or stolen property from exempt employees’ pay: trick or treat?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | October 2009
In The News
The Oklahoman | October 13, 2017
October 5, 2017
September 29, 2017
August 15, 2017
Chambers USA 2017 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 39 McAfee & Taft attorneys as leading lawyers for businessMay 26, 2017
March 24, 2017
McAfee & Taft, 19 attorneys honored in 2017 edition of Benchmark Litigation
October 19, 2016
Best Lawyers names 21 McAfee & Taft attorneys 2017 ‘Lawyers of the Year’ in 22 practice areas
August 15, 2016
Chambers USA 2016 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 41 firm attorneys as leading lawyers
May 27, 2016
‘Employers Under Pressure’ draws record attendance
April 5, 2016
McAfee & Taft, 20 attorneys honored in 2016 edition of Benchmark Litigation
November 2, 2015
Best Lawyers names 17 McAfee & Taft attorneys as 2016 ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in 18 categories
August 24, 2015
Kathy Neal inducted into the TU College of Law Hall of Fame
May 18, 2015
Annual seminar offers employers real-world examples of costly, common mistakes
May 1, 2015
Executive orders may protect employees on sex, gender basis
The Oklahoman | August 6, 2014
Annual seminar continues to draw more employers with timely practical guidance
April 18, 2014
Federal contractors face stronger rules on hiring vets
The Oklahoman | November 1, 2013
‘Government Gone Wild’ seminar draws record numbers
April 29, 2013
Family Medical Leave Act applies to adult children in some cases
The Oklahoman | April 4, 2013
Workplace gun policies need updating
Tulsa Daily Commerce & Legal News | June 1, 2012
Limits placed on company's ability to recover loss of equipment
The Oklahoman | December 10, 2009
Health Families Act sparks debate
The Journal Record | August 26, 2009
At The Podium
EmployerLINC17: Back to BasicsTulsa, Oklahoma | March 23, 2017
EmployerLINC16: Employers Under PressureTulsa, Oklahoma | April 5, 2016
McAfee & Taft Webinar SeriesJurisIQ.com | September 24, 2015
EmployerLINC 2015: Case studies in costly mistakesTulsa, OK | April 28, 2015
EmployerLINC WebinarOnline | September 24, 2014
EmployerLINC 2014: In Compliance, Out of CourtTulsa, Oklahoma | April 17, 2014
EmployerLINC 2014: In Compliance, Out of CourtOklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 16, 2014
Tulsa Area Employer CouncilTulsa, Oklahoma | August 13, 2013
Department of Labor
EmployerLINC 2013: 'Government Gone Wild'Tulsa, Oklahoma | April 26, 2013
Department of Labor
EmployerLINC 2013: 'Government Gone Wild'Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 23, 2013
Handling harassment (or similar types of) complaints
EmployerLINC WebinarOnline | July 18, 2012, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Hope for the Best or Prepare for the Worst: HR Best Practices for Hiring & Avoiding Employment Litigation
2012 Oklahoma Human Resources State Conference and ExpoTulsa, Oklahoma | April 26, 2012
Dodging Bullets — Tips for handling FLSA audits and avoiding other wage and hour surprises
EmployerLINC 2012: ‘Adventures in HR’Tulsa, Oklahoma | April 3, 2012
Hope for the Best or Prepare for the Worst: HR Best Practices for Avoiding Employment Litigation
HR Professional's LuncheonTulsa, Oklahoma | October 4, 2011
FMLA Hot Topics: In Loco Parentis, Retaliation and Handling Benefits
EmployerLINC 2011 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits SeminarTulsa, Oklahoma | April 26, 2011, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
EmployerLINC WebcastMarch 24, 2011, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
When the Feds Come Knockin'
Tulsa Area Employer CouncilTulsa, Oklahoma | November 10, 2010
Violence in the Workplace
Fall 2010 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Seminar - TulsaOctober 26, 2010, 8:25 AM - 12:00 PM
Curbing FMLA Abuse and Preventing Claims
HR Hero FMLA Master ClassOklahoma City, Oklahoma | May 26, 2010
How to Legally Terminate
Bartlesville Area Human Resources AssociationApril 8, 2010
Overcoming the 8 Toughest Wage & Hour Problems: How to avoid DOL's ramped-up enforcement
Interactive HR Hero Audio ConferenceAudio Conference | November 19, 2009
HR Hero Master ClassOklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 2, 2009
EmployerLINC2013: Government Gone Wild (Part 2)
April 23, 2013