Nathan L. Whatley


Paralegal: Cynthia McHale
Bio Menu
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Honors & Involvement
Bio overview

Nathan Whatley represents management in all phases of litigation before federal and state courts, regulatory and administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and in arbitration matters. He also handles litigation matters involving the enforcement of non-competition and confidentiality agreements, breach of employment contracts, handbook and personnel policy violations, wage and hour disputes, and other issues arising out of employer/employee relationships.

Nathan has litigated in Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, California, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Kansas and Missouri.

Nathan also routinely counsels clients in connection with employee discipline, terminations and reductions in force; wage and hour issues; handbooks and policies; drug and alcohol programs; executive compensation, employment and non-competition agreements; and individual and group severance programs and related matters. He also provides training to management and non-management employees in all areas affecting the employer/employee relationship and regularly conducts on-site client training in areas such as sexual harassment, drug and alcohol testing, employee leave and disability, and EEOC compliance and investigation.

Nathan is a frequent speaker on a variety of labor and employment topics and has been a guest legal columnist and contributing author to numerous business and professional publications, including The Oklahoman, The Journal Record, Oklahoma Employment Law Letter,, and EmployerLINC, a legal blog dedicated to employers and workplace issues. He has also been interviewed by local print and broadcast media outlets on matters affecting Oklahoma employers. In addition to having served as editor of the newsletter for the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association, he has authored white papers for the Society for Human Resource Management and articles for the Oklahoma Law Review and Oklahoma Bar Journal. His major writing credits include authoring and updating Oklahoma Employment Law: Practice and Forms Manual, published by Data Trace Publishing Company since 2010; co-authoring Entertainment and Media Law Client Strategies, published by Aspatore Books in 2007; and serving as a contributing writer to Age Discrimination In The Workplace: A Primer For Human Resource Professionals, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 1999.

Nathan has previously served as leader of McAfee & Taft’s Labor and Employment Group. His experience and expertise 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) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers, where he has been named to its list of “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers.” He was selected by Best Lawyers as the “Oklahoma City Employment Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2019, an honor only given to a single lawyer in each legal specialty in each community.

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Experience, Honors, & Awards

Representative Experience

  • Nationwide defense of employment litigation and arbitration matters.
  • Representation of employers in litigation relating to employment contracts, commission disputes and non-compete agreements.
  • Representation of employers before the EEOC and various state human rights agencies.
  • Representation of employers in wage and hour and FMLA investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Representation of employers in individual and class action wage and hour cases.
  • Representation of employers in state wage and hour and unemployment claims.
  • Representation of employers before the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Representation of employers before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Representation of national retailer in false arrest and related tort actions.
  • Representation of property owners in ADA accessibility actions.
  • Burks v. Oklahoma Publishing Co., 81 F.3d 975 (10th Cir. 1996)
  • Bell v. Dillard Dept. Stores, Inc., 85 F.3d 1451 (10th Cir. 1996)
  • Danner v. Dillard Dept. Stores, Inc., 949 P.2nd 680 (Okla. 1997)
  • Frusher v. Dillard Dept. Stores, Inc., 166 F.3d 1220 (10th Cir. 1998)
  • Gripe v. City of Enid, 213 F.3d 1184 (10th Cir. 2002)
  • Kuykendall v. Gulfstream Aerospace Technologies, 66 P.3d (Okla. 2002)


Honors and Awards

  • Listed in the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
  • Named a “Labor & Employment Star – South” by Benchmark Litigation
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (employment law — management; labor law — management; labor and employment litigation)
  • Listed in Oklahoma Super Lawyers
  • Named the Oklahoma City Employment Lawyer of the Year (Management)” for 2019 by The Best Lawyers in America
  • Named to Oklahoma Super Lawyers’ list of “Top 50 Oklahoma Lawyers”
  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

Professional Organizations and Memberships

  • Oklahoma County Bar Association
  • Oklahoma Bar Association (Former Chair, Labor & Employment Section)
  • Oklahoma City Metro Employer Council (Executive Board)
  • Sooner Human Resources Society (General Counsel)
  • Society for Human Resource Management

Civic Involvement and Leadership

  • Norman Chamber of Commerce

ATPs display in this column

At The Podium

Labor & Employment ‘Ask the Experts’ Panel

Online | March 10, 2021

COVID-19: Navigating legal and business issues in the workplace

Oklahoma Trucking Association Webinar
Online | April 1, 2020

Preventing & Defusing Workplace Violence

McAfee & Taft Webinar Series
Online | May 21, 2019

The Magnificent Seven: The top seven FLSA mistakes

Oklahoma City, OK | April 3, 2019

Hot Topics in Labor & Employment Law

SouthWest Benefits Association’s 29th Annual Benefits Compliance Seminar
Dallas, TX | November 8, 2018

New Developments in Labor & Employment Law for 2018

Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference
Norman, OK | September 19, 2018

Medical Marijuana: Next steps for Oklahoma employers

Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC)
Oklahoma City, OK | August 10, 2018

Let’s talk about Marijuana in the Workplace

Norman, OK | May 8, 2018

Recent Developments in Labor and Employment Law

Oklahoma Chapter of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources 2018 Spring Conference
Edmond, Oklahoma | April 11, 2018

ADA Reasonable Accommodations: Extended leave, service animals and other tricky issues

EmployerLINC18: Workplace Issues in the News
Oklahoma City, OK | March 27, 2018

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — Expecting the unexpected from your employees

Lawton Employer Council Meeting
Lawton, Oklahoma | July 18, 2017

Bullies, Exes and Lone Shooters: Getting the drop on workplace violence

EmployerLINC17: Back to Basics
Tulsa, Oklahoma | March 23, 2017

Bullies, Exes and Lone Shooters: Getting the drop on workplace violence

EmployerLINC17: Back to Basics
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | March 22, 2017

Walking the Tightrope of Employee Background Screening — How to Hire the Right Employees without Going Too Far

Oklahoma City Employer Council Meeting
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 18, 2016

Guns or No Guns? Weighing workplace weapons policies

2015 Corporate Counsel Seminar
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 3, 2015

Drugs at the Workplace

Lawton, Oklahoma | October 20, 2015

The Right Way to Investigate Wrongdoing

Norman, Oklahoma | October 20, 2015

Pro’s and Con’s of Social Media in the Workplace…How does your policy read?

Western Oklahoma Human Resources Organization September Meeting
Weatherford, Oklahoma | September 10, 2015

Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing

Headaches in the Healthcare Workplace Seminar
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 30, 2015

Failure to properly structure severance agreements

EmployerLINC 2015: Case studies in costly mistakes
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 30, 2015

2015 Labor and Employment Law Update

The Business & Industry Council
Shawnee, Oklahoma | February 25, 2015

Occupational Safety & Health Administration

EmployerLINC 2013: 'Government Gone Wild'
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 23, 2013

Employment Law Update 2013

Sooner Human Resources Society
Norman, Oklahoma | January 8, 2013

Legislative and Regulatory Update: Some Things to Look Forward to in 2013

Oklahoma Bar Association Government and Administrative Law Practice Section CLE Seminar
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 14, 2012

Avoiding the hazards of workplace safety programs

EmployerLINC Webinar
Online | June 13, 2012

Dodging Bullets — Tips for handling FLSA audits and avoiding other wage and hour surprises

EmployerLINC 2012: ‘Adventures in HR’
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 10, 2012

Employer Social Media Policies Under Fire

Enid Society for Human Resource Management
March 8, 2012

Take It From the Top: Changes in Employee Law

Oklahoma Assisted Living Association Fall Intensive
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 14, 2011

Walking the Tightrope of Employee Background Screening

Barriers and Bridges: Reframing Your Corporate Culture Conference
August 5, 2011

Wage and Hour Compliance, Employee Classification and Companionship Exemption

Oklahoma Association for Home Care Last Chance Leadership Conference
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | July 20, 2011

Walking the Tightrope of Employee Background Screening: How to Hire the Right Employees Without Going Too Far

OKC Metro Employer Council
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | June 21, 2011, 08:30 - 10:00

Credit Check Dilemma: Follow the Rules, Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

HR Hero Audio Conference
April 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 Seminar
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 20, 2011, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Health Care Reform: New Rules, New Laws and What It Means for HR

Fall 2010 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Seminar - Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma | October 26, 2010, 8:25 AM - 12:00 PM

Regulatory Enforcement on the Rise: Avoiding Wage & Hour Traps and Surviving a DOL Audit

Fall 2010 Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Seminar - Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma | October 26, 2010, 8:25 AM - 12:00 PM

Employee Handbooks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

2010 Oklahoma Statewide Payroll Conference
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | September 17, 2010

Payroll Law in Oklahoma – The Most Frequently Asked (and Missed) Questions

Oklahoma Bar Association Webcast
Online | June 22, 2010, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Representing Employers Before OSHA in a New Era of Enforcement-Driven Initiatives

Oklahoma Bar Association Webcast
Online | June 8, 2010, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Employment Law Update

LEEB University - Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 2, 2009

FMLA Compliance Challenges and Solutions

HR Hero Master Class
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | October 2, 2009
Attorney Articles


Immediate action required for all employers using background checks

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

DOL brings back an old favorite, seeks input on overtime changes

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Jury slaps AutoZone with $186 million verdict for pregnancy bias

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employee who quit during interactive process cannot pursue ADA claim

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employee fired for failing to cooperate with FMLA leave approval process

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employer’s quick action bars racial harassment claim

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employers must allow employees opportunity to vote

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Avoiding hidden liabilities with employee housing agreements

McAfee & Taft AgLINC |

OSHA sharpens focus on employer safety incentives and disincentives

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

There’s an app for that

The Journal Record |

Enforcement: Just how aggressive is DOL becoming in its search for wage and hour violations?

Oklahoma Employment Law Letter |

Department of Labor, plaintiffs’ attorneys targeting healthcare industry for FLSA enforcement

McAfee & Taft Healthcare Industry Alert |

Reasonable Accommodation: Bumping temporaries as an accommodation

Oklahoma Employment Law Letter |

DOL issues rule change for workers on farms

McAfee & Taft AgLINC Ag Industry Alert |

Discrimination: ADA ‘association’ claims can be based on a variety of relationships

Oklahoma Employment Law Letter |

Family and medical leave: Lack of good-faith investigation in FMLA case costs employer more than $300k

Oklahoma Employment Law Letter |

Family and Medical Leave: New from the FMLA front

Oklahoma Employment Law Letter |


  • Oklahoma, 1992
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western, Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma
  • U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • J.D., with highest honors, University of Oklahoma, 1992
    • Order of the Coif; Oklahoma Law Review
  • B.A., with highest honors, University of Oklahoma, 1989
    • Phi Beta Kappa; Golden Key National Honor Society

In The News

McAfee & Taft honored as top-ranked firm by Chambers USA 2022
Super Lawyers 2021
Best Lawyers 2022
Chambers USA 2021
Super Lawyers 2020

McAfee & Taft, 23 attorneys honored in 2021 edition of Benchmark Litigation

COVID-19 Return to Work Packages for Employers

Chambers USA 2020 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 32 attorneys singled out for individual honors

Is age really just a number?

The Oklahoman |

Oklahoma Super Lawyers honors 101 McAfee & Taft attorneys in 2019 edition

Chambers USA 2019 honors McAfee & Taft as top‑ranked firm

EmployerLINC19 draws largest audiences ever in Oklahoma City and Tulsa

Workplace romances may be bad for morale

The Oklahoman |

McAfee & Taft, 23 attorneys honored in 2019 edition of Benchmark Litigation

Oklahoma Super Lawyers honors 113 McAfee & Taft attorneys in 2018 edition

Federal employment commission sues restaurant for not hiring male servers

The Oklahoman |

Best Lawyers honors 25 McAfee & Taft attorneys as ‘Lawyers of the Year’ for 2019

The Best Lawyers in America names 107 McAfee & Taft attorneys to 2019 edition

Company, EEOC reach settlement on chronic pulmonary condition case

The Oklahoman |

Seminar explores business owners’ cannabis concerns

The Norman Transcript |

Chambers USA 2018 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 35 attorneys singled out for individual honors

‘Workplace Issues in the News’ seminar draws record numbers

Court dismisses employee suits challenging employer bag inspections

The Oklahoman |

EEOC sues retailer for alleged misuse of medical exams

The Oklahoman |

EEOC sues coffee company for firing woman who complained of sexual harassment

The Oklahoman |

Will the eclipse block out work? Eclipse Fever joins March Madness and Super Bowl Flu

The Oklahoman |

The Best Lawyers in America names 102 McAfee & Taft attorneys to 2018 edition

Justice Department argues sexual orientation discrimination not covered by Civil Rights Act

The Oklahoman |

Employee lawsuits challenge employers’ English‑only policies

The Oklahoman |

Survey: Work integral to cancer patients’ well-being

The Oklahoman |

Budget proposal includes paid family leave for mothers, fathers

The Oklahoman |

Chambers USA 2017 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 39 McAfee & Taft attorneys as leading lawyers for business

Employers saluted for support of National Guard, Reserve

The Oklahoman |

McAfee & Taft seminar draws large crowds looking for answers about new administration

Study: Executive indiscretions can hurt bottom line

The Oklahoman |

New EEOC fact sheet focuses on acts of religious discrimination

The Oklahoman |

Chambers USA 2016 honors McAfee & Taft as top-ranked firm, 41 firm attorneys as leading lawyers

Lawsuit over background checks brings policy changes for BMW

The Oklahoman |

Jury awards almost $186 million for pregnancy discrimination claim

The Oklahoman |

EEOC files lawsuit against UPS on religious discrimination claims

The Oklahoman |

Annual seminar offers employers real-world examples of costly, common mistakes

Employees’ paycheck selfies can open accounts to thefts

The Oklahoman |

Some firms consider ways to allow guns in workplace for safety

The Oklahoman |

Survey says: Columnist is right for her job

The Oklahoman |

‘Government Gone Wild’ seminar draws record numbers

Oklahoma employers have flexibility in banning, controlling firearms

The Oklahoman |

Distracted driving on the clock

The Oklahoman |

Firm hosts webinar on workplace safety programs after OSHA memo discourages safety incentives

More Oklahoma businesses plan to ban smoking on premises

The Oklahoman |

Employers can penalize, fire workers for weather‑related absences

The Oklahoman |

ADA reasonable accommodations test may not include temp jobs

The Oklahoman |

Health care reform bill requires break time for nursing mothers

The Oklahoman |

Men making more harassment complaints, statistics show

The Oklahoman |

Returning active duty employees entitled to similar jobs

The Oklahoman |

Department of Labor rules place limitations on employment of unpaid interns, teens

The Oklahoman |

Oklahoma may follow IRS effort to identify misclassified workers

The Oklahoman |

Policies for military family leave must be in compliance with law

The Oklahoman |

Nathan Whatley featured in Fox 25 news story, “Your rights in the workplace”

KOKH-TV/Fox 25 Newscast |

Bad economy good for employment law

The Journal Record |

Oklahoma Supreme Court decision could affect awarded damages

The Oklahoman |

State law requires that workers have ample time to cast ballots

The Oklahoman |

Court decision may mean changes to Family Leave Act

The Oklahoman |

Employment Attorney Nathan Whatley Discourages Workplace Relationships

Sunday Oklahoman |

Nathan Whatley to Address Employer Issues Arising from Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007

Employers must accept eligibility documents to avoid lawsuits

The Oklahoman |

Nathan Whatley quoted in Oklahoman article on the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Oklahoman |