Sam Fulkerson represents management exclusively in all areas of employment law. Much of his practice is devoted to counseling clients on best practices in the workplace and routinely involves the training of management and hourly employees; counseling on disciplinary, organizational and general business issues; legal compliance, including hiring practices, employee classification and wage issues; policy drafting and implementation, including multi-state employer policies, drug testing, and dispute resolution programs; resolution of issues arising from reorganizations, reductions-in-force, mergers, sales, acquisitions and board disputes; and workplace investigations, including those involving claims of sexual and racial harassment, as well as employee, management and board misconduct.
As part of his litigation practice, Sam represents employers in all phases of litigation before federal and state trial and appellate courts as well as federal and state agencies. His extensive agency experience includes defending numerous clients before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor regarding alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Act, including OSHA whistleblower claims.
Sam’s litigation experience includes the defense of discrimination, interference and retaliation claims; class actions; collective actions under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (both disparate treatment and disparate impact claims) and FLSA (including overtime, donning/doffing and Motor Carrier exemption claims); enforcement of non-competition, confidentiality, trade secret, intellectual property and employment agreements; and obtaining and defending against injunctive relief.
In the last three years, Sam has been lead counsel in lawsuits in federal district court in Atlanta, Nashville, Brownsville, Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, and New Mexico, including as lead counsel in six FLSA collective actions; the state courts of Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma and California; and administrative agencies in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Oregon and Washington. Sam also has extensive experience in mediating and arbitrating employment disputes before the American Arbitration Association, the EEOC, and in federal court.
Sam’s non-litigation practice also includes representation of legislative bodies and special interest groups, and he frequently drafts proposed legislation and reviews legislative proposals for constitutionality, especially those laws affecting the workplace, the employment relationship, and employer interests.
Sam trains and lectures frequently on employment law topics in Oklahoma and elsewhere, has published scholarly articles in the Oklahoma Law Review and the Society for Human Resource Management Legal Report, and was the primary author of “Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Primer for Human Resource Professionals,” Society for Human Resource Management.
Sam is the designated co-representative of McAfee & Taft as the exclusive member firm representing Oklahoma in the Employers Counsel Network, a nationwide affiliation of leading law firms providing legal assistance and representation to employers. He is also co-editor of the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, a monthly review of new court decisions, regulations and laws that affect state employers, as well as co-editor for the Oklahoma section of the annual guidebook for employers and human resources professionals, 50 Employment Laws in 50 States.
His achievements have earned him inclusion in Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business; The Best Lawyers in America (employment law – management; labor law – management; labor and employment litigation), which also selected him as “Oklahoma City Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2012 and “Oklahoma City Labor Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2015 and 2017; and Oklahoma Super Lawyers, which also has named him to its list of “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers” each year since 2012.
- Successfully defended large multinational energy services company in arbitration challenging the employer’s drug testing policy under the Oklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act.
- Obtained dismissal of workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge claim in an action brought by a former energy company employee challenging the constitutionality of a provision of Oklahoma's recently enacted Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act. In its ruling, the court held that the Workers’ Compensation Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over workers’ compensation retaliatory discharge claims, and that the Act is constitutional.
- Represented the interests of the State Chamber of Oklahoma as amicus curiae before the Oklahoma Supreme Court in an action challenging the constitutionality of the privatization of the state workers’ compensation fund. The fund’s privatization was a key part of reforming the entire state workers’ comp system, and the Chamber’s position was adopted by the court in an opinion relying significantly on arguments and authorities presented in the brief.
- Representation of venture capital group in combining multiple energy-related companies located across Oklahoma and Texas into single organization, with related redundancy, employee classification, wage and management issues, and agency investigations.
- Representation of national pipeline services company in nationwide DOL investigation of employee classification and overtime issues, and application of FLSA’s 13(b)(1) Motor Carrier exemption and application of the “four month rule.”
- Representation of durable medical equipment supplier in obtaining temporary retraining order in Ohio against former national sales manager who improperly retained and used confidential information and also violated non-solicitation agreement; and, in obtaining preliminary injunction in Texas against physicians practice for improperly steering patients to a competitor.
- Representation of tribal-owned government contractor companies, including general consulting, issues related to government subpoenas and investigations, False Claims Act whistleblower claims, and litigation related to joint ventures.
- Representation of Oklahoma Department of Tourism in lawsuit by Oklahoma Public Employees Union challenging denial of severance and retirement benefits in reduction-in-force.
- National representation of temporary staffing company, including wage/hour collective action and FLSA’s 13(b)(1) exemption to loaders and sorters in the trucking and distribution industry.
- Representation of national manufacturing and distribution company into allegations of sexual misconduct and favoritism by C-level executives.
- Representation of hybrid public/private non-profit economic development agency in investigation and removal of executive director for financial impropriety and substance abuse.
- Representation of multiple non-profit boards in executive director misconduct investigations, and executive searches.
- Representation of Oklahoma State Senate in employment, compliance and training issues.
- Representation of the State Chamber of Oklahoma in legislative initiatives and related constitutionality reviews, including significant revisions of Oklahoma’s Anti-Discrimination Act, drug and alcohol testing statute, unemployment law statute, and workers’ compensation statute.
- Lead counsel for national temporary staffing company in sexual harassment/gender discrimination case in federal court jury trial in Western District of Oklahoma in August 2012.
- Lead counsel for steel fabrication company in gender discrimination and FMLA interference/retaliation case in federal court jury trial in October 2013.
Representative Cases 1993-2013:
- Bolton v. Scrivner, Inc., 836 F.Supp. 783 (W.D.Okl. 1993), aff’d, 36 F.3d 939 (10th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 1104 (1995) (interpretation of “disabled person” under Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Milton v. Scrivner, Inc., 901 F.Supp. 1541 (W.D.Okl. 1994), aff’d, 53 F.3d 1118 (10th Cir. 1995) (definition of “disability” under Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Massey v. Scrivner, Inc., 901 F.Supp. 1546 (W.D.Okl. 1994), aff’d, 53 F.3d 1118 (10th Cir. 1995) (definition of “disability,” and speed of production as a “bona fide occupational qualification” under Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Sarsycki v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 862 F.Supp. 336 (W.D.Okl. 1994) (impact of mitigating measures on determination of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Atkinson v. Halliburton Co., 905 P.2d 772 (Okla. 1995) (administrative procedure under Oklahoma anti- discrimination statute).
- Cole v. Halliburton Co., 6 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d 990 (W.D. Okla., Sep 06, 2000) (enforceability of arbitration agreement).
- Walker v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 240 F.3d 1268 (10th Cir. 2000) (administrative exhaustion requirements under Title VII, and recoverable damages under the Family and Medical Leave Act).
- Pierce, et al v. Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc., 245 F.Supp.2d 1212 (E.D. Okl. 2003) (enforceability of arbitration agreements).
- Eapen v. McMillan, P.3d (Ok. Ct. App. 2008) (individual liability under Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act and public policy tort).
- Miami Business Services, Inc. v. The Hon. Lisa Davis, and Asset Group, Inc., et al, 2013 OK 20 (disqualification of opposing counsel, and related appellate procedure).
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 (employment law – management; labor law – management; labor and employment litigation)
- Named “Oklahoma City Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2012 and “Oklahoma City Labor Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2015 and 2017 by The Best Lawyers in America
- Listed in Oklahoma Super Lawyers
- Named to Oklahoma Super Lawyers’ list of “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers”
- Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings
- Named to the ABA-affiliated International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers (2011-2013)
- Honored as the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City’s Board Member of the Year (2013)
- Honored with The Journal Record’s Leadership in Law Award, recognizing legal professionals with their professional and civic contributions to the state (2011)
Professional Organizations and Memberships
- Oklahoma Bar Association (Former Chair, Labor and Employment Law Section)
- American Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
There are lies and damn lies, and then there are statistics
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | October 2012
Proving the outside sales exemption under FLSA
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | August 2012
Update on OHRC elimination
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | July 2012
Oklahoma Human Rights Commission ceases operations as of June 30
McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC Employment Law Update | June 18, 2012
Changes in enforcement of Oklahoma's employment discrimination laws
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | June 2012
Misguided claims of ‘hostile’ work environment
EmployerLINC.com | May 14, 2012
It’s all about what caused it
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | April 2012
FLSA: Be careful when classifying your employees
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | February 2012
Be careful when communicating with medical providers
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | November 2011
Employment Contracts: Be careful what you say
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | September 2011
Does an arbitration decision under a CBA bar a later Title VII lawsuit?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | July 2011
Oklahoma’s employment discrimination laws rewritten
McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC Employment Law Update | May 19, 2011
The bottom line on the new ADAAA regs
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | May 2011
Hostile Work Environment: When it comes to sexual harassment, two wrongs don't make a right
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | March 2011
Disability Discrimination: Disability claims in the new year — be vigilant!
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | January 2011
Be careful what you test for!
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | December 2010
Would you like fries with that?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | August 2010
Employment arbitration in Oklahoma: Two new cases
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | June 2010
Using credit checks in the hiring process: A thing of the past?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | April 2010
Supervisor training: EEO training makes economic sense even in the worst of times
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | February 2010
Employer liability: Small employers, beware!
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | December 2009
When is a job function ‘essential’ under the ADA?
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | October 2009
Hostile work environment: Employee who participated in ‘give and take’ of workplace harassment loses case
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | August 2009
Packing heat in the workplace: Employees’ right to have guns on employer premises
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | April 2009
Employer retaliation: If you have a clear shot, take it
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | January 2009
Update on FCRA: New court decision, new FACTA regs
Oklahoma Employment Law Letter | November 2008
In The News
August 15, 2016
May 27, 2016
May 1, 2015
April 29, 2013
The Oklahoman | June 3, 2011
The Oklahoman | April 25, 2010
Small employers are at risk of increased employment cases
The Oklahoman | December 29, 2009
Americans with Disabilities Act amendments expand protections
The Oklahoman | November 4, 2008
EEOC addresses unconscious workplace bias
The Journal Record | July 13, 2007
At The Podium
Oklahoma Trucking Association Midwinter ConferenceOklahoma City, Oklahoma | March 3, 2016
2015 Corporate Counsel SeminarOklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 3, 2015
EmployerLINC 2015: Case studies in costly mistakesOklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 30, 2015
EmployerLINC 2015: Case studies in costly mistakesTulsa, Oklahoma | April 28, 2015
EmployerLINC Seminar: Workers' Compensation OverhaulOklahoma City, Oklahoma | June 19, 2013
EmployerLINC 2013: 'Government Gone Wild'Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 23, 2013
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 28, 2012
Oklahoma Bar Association Government and Administrative Law Practice Section CLE SeminarOklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 14, 2012
Operation: Sanity! — Dealing with the traps and pitfalls of employee terminations
EmployerLINC 2012: ‘Adventures in HR’Tulsa, Oklahoma | April 3, 2012
Take It From the Top: Changes in Employee Law
Oklahoma Assisted Living Association Fall IntensiveOklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 14, 2011
For Better or Worse: Oklahoma Legislature Lays Down New Laws for Employees
Oklahoma Bar Association CLE SeminarOklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 14, 2011
Employment Law — Current Developments
National Association of Unemployment Insurance Appellate Boards 2011 ConferenceOklahoma City, Oklahoma | July 12, 2011
Credit Check Dilemma: Follow the Rules, Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards
HR Hero Audio ConferenceApril 26, 2011, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
FMLA Hot Topics: In Loco Parentis, Retaliation and Handling Benefits
EmployerLINC 2011 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits SeminarOklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 20, 2011, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Advanced FLSA Compliance Strategies
HR Hero 2011 Wage & Hour Virtual Summit (Online Interactive Conference)April 12, 2011, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
What's New and Hot With the FMLA
2010 Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, Las VegasLas Vegas, Nevada | November 11, 2010
Employee Privacy: Should I Care?
Fall 2010 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Seminar - TulsaTulsa, Oklahoma | October 26, 2010 - 12:00 PM
Employee Privacy: Should I Care?
Fall 2010 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Seminar - Oklahoma CityOklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 20, 2010, 8:25 AM - 12:00 PM
What's New and Hot With the FMLA
2010 Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, NashvilleNashville, Tennessee | September 30, 2010
Avoiding Pay Policy Errors in 2010 and Beyond
Wage & Hour Compliance Virtual SummitOnline | June 17, 2010, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Military Family Leave
HR Hero FMLA Master ClassOklahoma City, Oklahoma | May 26, 2010
FMLA Compliance Challenges and Solutions
HR Hero Master ClassOklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 2, 2009
Oklahoma Employers' ADA Master Class
HR Hero Master ClassTulsa, Oklahoma | May 12, 2009