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 Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2013 and 2017, “Tulsa Labor and Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2015 and 2019, and “Tulsa Labor Law Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2016, honors given to a single lawyer in each legal specialty in each community.Download Bio (PDF)
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
- Named a “Local Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation
- 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 Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2013 and 2017, “Tulsa Labor and Employment Litigation Lawyer of the Year” for 2015 and 2019, and “Tulsa Labor Law Lawyer of the Year (Management)” 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)