Philip R. Bruce

Shareholder

(405) 552-2390
philip.bruce@mcafeetaft.com
Oklahoma City

Phil Bruce counsels and represents employers exclusively in all aspects of labor and employment law, including matters involving wage and hour law, non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, employee handbook policies and procedures, hiring and onboarding procedures, USCIS Form 1-9 immigration compliance, discipline and termination, drug and alcohol testing, medical and disability leave, litigation avoidance, and compliance with a myriad of state and federal laws. He also defends employers in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, and in arbitration against claims of workplace harassment, Title VII employment discrimination, FLSA violations, and wrongful discharge and retaliation.

A portion of Phil’s practice is devoted to complex business litigation, including breach of contract cases, breach of confidentiality cases, and cases involving Lanham Act violations.

Phil’s achievements have earned him inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch (labor and employment law – management; labor and employment law litigation) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers.

Phil is a member of the Employers Counsel Network and a contributing author and co-editor of the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, a monthly review of new court decisions, regulations and laws affecting Oklahoma employers.  His other major writing credits include co-authoring and updating Oklahoma Employment Law: Practice and Forms Manual, published by Data Trace Publishing Company, since 2013.

Prior to graduating from law school, Phil served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Timothy DeGiusti, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, and worked as a research assistant for two law professors. While an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, he served as an honors intern in the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.

Representative Experience

Employment & Labor Law

  • Obtained jury verdict and damages on behalf of an international electronics manufacturer who sued its former vice president of accounting for theft of trade secrets and violation of employment, confidentiality and noncompetition agreements.  Additional award of more than $336,000 in the form of sanctions and prevailing party attorney fees and costs affirmed on appeal by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
  • Obtained judgment and an award in excess of $4 million on behalf of an international manufacturer of industrial technology who sued its former president for theft of trade secrets and violation of his employment agreement. The court also issued a permanent injunction against the former executive for certain anti-competitive activities and further breaches of his employment and confidentiality agreements.
  • Represented both private and public employers in administrative charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including investigating and drafting of positions statements, mediation, conciliation, and defending companies facing cause findings.
  • Advise Native American tribal governments in the application of various employment laws.
  • Advised regional bank on litigation avoidance and strategy for various non-compete cases.
  • Obtained a favorable arbitration decision for an Oklahoma municipality in a case involving the discipline and demotion of a city employee for misconduct.
  • Assisted non-profit and for profit companies in drafting and implementing social media and related computer-use and confidentiality policies.
  • Representation of Oklahoma State Senate in employment, compliance, and training issues.
  • Obtained summary judgment in Minnesota federal court on behalf of national staffing firm on whistleblower claim of alleged threats of workplace violence.
  • Advise clients of requirements of state employment laws across the United States, including laws in Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Assisted in trial representing steel fabrication company in gender discrimination and FMLA interference/retaliation case in federal court jury trial in October 2013.
  • Advised Oklahoma-based employer on responding to an employer correction request notice (“no-match letter”) issued by the Social Security Administration following the company’s onboarding of a new employee. 
  • Assisted agriculture industry employer in conducting an internal audit of its Form I-9 verification procedures and developing best practices for maintaining worksite compliance.
  • Successfully defended Oklahoma employer in lawsuit against discrimination and public policy claims regarding the residency status of employees.

Wage & Hour Law

  • Advised private liberal arts university of applicable FLSA overtime exemptions for assistant athletic coaches; retailer furniture business in proper FLSA structure of commission salesmen; major metropolitan library in exempt status of librarians; national construction company on use of fluctuating work week and Belo pay practices for laborers; and commercial yacht company on proper pay structures and employment practices of crew to comply with international treaties and FLSA requirements.
  • Representation of several national oil and gas services companies in FLSA and state wage law collective action cases including issues of classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt, use of independent contractors, and issues of compensable time.
  • Litigated FLSA class and collective action cases across multiple states in cases often with millions of dollars of potential liability at stake. Litigation experience includes a variety of industries, including oil and gas, healthcare, property management, tribal entities, and restaurants.
  • Successfully defended restaurant group in U.S. Department of Labor investigation of hourly employee pay practices.

Complex Civil Litigation

  • Obtained dismissal of state court lawsuit against a plaintiff’s former employer for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of homeowners in construction lien and premises liability lawsuit in Oklahoma state court.
  • Successfully briefed and argued Daubert motion to exclude expert witness testimony in multi-party personal injury case.
  • Assisted in trial representing international radio remote control manufacturer in Oklahoma state court in case against former vice president of accounting for breach of confidentiality agreement and winning unanimous jury verdict.
  • Obtained summary judgment for foreign oil and gas services company on breach of contract case in Oklahoma state court.

Honors and Awards

  • Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch (labor and employment law – management; labor and employment litigation)
  • Listed in Oklahoma Super Lawyers

Professional Organizations and Memberships

  • Tulsa County Bar Association
  • Oklahoma Bar Association (Treasurer, Labor and Employment Section)

Speaking Engagements

  • Under Pressure: Labor & Employment “Ask the Experts” Panel

    EmployerLINC24: Workplace Soundtrack

    March 7, 2024
    | Oklahoma City, OK
  • 2023 Federal and State Law Update

    Oklahoma Bar Association's 2023 Labor and Employment Law Update

    December 1, 2023
    | Online
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? HR and Benefits Best Practices for Addressing Leaves of Absence

    EmployerLINC23: HR in Reel Life

    March 30, 2023
    | Tulsa, Ok
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? HR and Benefits Best Practices for Addressing Leaves of Absence

    EmployerLINC23: HR in Reel Life

    March 29, 2023
    | Oklahoma City, OK
  • Personnel Investigations

    Oklahoma Public Employer Relations Association's 2023 Spring Training Day

    March 22, 2023
    | Stroud, OK
  • Lights, Camera, Action: Fresh Take on Law Firm Video Production

    2022 Employers Counsel Network National Conference

    April 21, 2022
    | Amelia Island, FL
More speaking engagements
  • Oklahoma, 2011
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western, Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma
  • J.D., with distinction, University of Oklahoma, 2011
    • Editorial Board, Oklahoma Law Review; Order of Barristers; American Association for Justice Mock Trial Team; Luther Bohanon American Inn of Court
  • B.A. (Political Science), cum laude, University of Kentucky, 2008