Philip R. Bruce


Bio Menu
  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Honors & Involvement
Bio overview

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’ list of “Oklahoma Rising Stars,” which recognizes the state’s up-and-coming attorneys.

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.

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Experience, Honors, & Awards

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)
  • Named to Oklahoma Super Lawyers’ list of “Oklahoma Rising Stars,” which recognizes the state’s up-and-coming attorneys

Professional Organizations and Memberships

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

ATPs display in this column

At The Podium

O Brother, Where Art Thou? HR and Benefits Best Practices for Addressing Leaves of Absence

EmployerLINC23: HR in Reel Life
Tulsa, Ok | March 30, 2023

O Brother, Where Art Thou? HR and Benefits Best Practices for Addressing Leaves of Absence

EmployerLINC23: HR in Reel Life
Oklahoma City, OK | March 29, 2023

Personnel Investigations

Oklahoma Public Employer Relations Association's 2023 Spring Training Day
Stroud, OK | March 22, 2023

Lights, Camera, Action: Fresh Take on Law Firm Video Production

2022 Employers Counsel Network National Conference
Amelia Island, FL | April 21, 2022

Labor & Employment ‘Ask the Experts’ Panel

Online | March 10, 2021

COVID-19: The Pandemic’s Impact on ADA/FMLA Claims, FFCRA, and Employers’ Best Practices

Oklahoma Employment Lawyers Association's 2020 Employment Law Seminar
Oklahoma City, OK / Livestream | December 4, 2020

Avoiding wage and hour pitfalls during the pandemic

McAfee & Taft Webinar Series
June 10, 2020

The Magnificent Seven: The top seven FLSA mistakes

Oklahoma City, OK | April 3, 2019

Recent Developments with the Fair Labor Standards Act

OBA 2018 Labor and Employment Law Update
Oklahoma City, OK | September 20, 2018

Oklahoma Unemployment Law

Oklahoma Labor/Management Conference 2018
Oklahoma City, OK | May 10, 2018

Guns at Work: How to legally balance workplace safety with local ‘parking lot’ laws

BLR On-Demand Webinar
Online | April 10, 2018

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

EmployerLINC18: Workplace Issues in the News
Tulsa, OK | March 29, 2018

Ask The Attorneys Panel

Ready to Work Conference & Expo
Shawnee, Oklahoma | September 15, 2017

Employee Hiring and Departures: Do’s and don’ts for fair competition

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

Employee Hiring and Departures: Do’s and don’ts for fair competition

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

Do’s and don’ts of FMLA Abuse: How to identify it and how to stop it

Western Oklahoma Human Resources
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | May 14, 2015

Failure to understand the nuances of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements

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

Failure to understand the nuances of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements

EmployerLINC 2015: Case studies in costly mistakes
Tulsa, Oklahoma | April 28, 2015

Stuck in the Middle: Tips on walking the legal tightrope of preventing workplace violence

Risk Management Society of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | December 16, 2014

Hot button pre-employment issues

EmployerLINC 2014: In Compliance, Out of Court
Tulsa, Oklahoma | April 17, 2014

Hot button pre-employment issues

EmployerLINC 2014: In Compliance, Out of Court
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | April 16, 2014

Employment Law Update: What’s New in 2013

Enid Society for Human Resource Management
Enid, Oklahoma | October 8, 2013
Attorney Articles


Photo of Colorado Supreme Court building exterior
Man in business suit holding severance agreement
A non-compete agreement laying on a desk
Photo of U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh

Rewind, revise and clarify: DOL takes aim at independent contractor regs

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |
Mental health professional taking notes during a counseling session

SCOTUS to decide if employee paid a day rate of $963 and making $200,000 a year is entitled to overtime

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

It’s now easier for alleged joint employers to compel arbitration

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Biden Administration releases guidance classifying ‘long COVID’ as a potential disability

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Rulemaking whiplash: DOL withdraws Trump-era independent contractor rule

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Stimulus bill: FFCRA tax credits, but not mandate, extended until March 31, 2021

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC Alert |

Court rules DOL overstepped, strikes portions of FFCRA regulations

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Oklahoma employer beware: Fraudulent unemployment claims on the rise

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

DOL updates guidance for employers on implementation of FFCRA

McAfee & Taft LINC |

Retaliation suit shows requests for unpaid overtime can be a timekeeping trap

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Tenth Circuit holds FLSA applies to marijuana industry employees

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

The Need for Speed: Ruling offers guidance for companies seeking injunctions to protect trade secrets

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employers must still use caution when using independent contractors

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Religious accommodation need not be employee’s preferred accommodation

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Resolution of wage violations not necessarily assured under PAID pilot program

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Appeals court continues narrow interpretation of Oklahoma’s non‑solicitation statute

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Court rules employee’s behavior justified mental health exam

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

DOL back at it: FLSA ‘white collar’ exemption

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employer successfully fights EEOC subpoena

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Don’t bet the farm on March (legal) Madness

McAfee & Taft tIPsheet |

Attack on waivers of class action claims

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016: Implications for business, employers and employees

McAfee & Taft tIPsheet and McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Tenth Circuit raises the stakes in (already) costly wage and hour litigation

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Combatting FMLA Abuse

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employee investigation tips

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Five tips on preventing workplace violence

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC |

Employers prohibited from requiring access to social media accounts

McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC Alert |

Industry Groups



  • 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

In The News

Best Lawyers names 128 McAfee & Taft lawyers to 2023 lists
Super Lawyers 2021
Best Lawyers 2022
Super Lawyers 2020
Oil field worker

DOL’s revisions reaffirm parts of original FFCRA regulations

HR Daily Advisor |

The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch names 12 McAfee & Taft attorneys to inaugural 2021 list

Liability on the minds of employers, lawmakers as businesses reopen

HRLaws |

COVID-19 Return to Work Packages for Employers

Medical marijuana employers still must follow federal wage, hour law

The Oklahoman |

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

EmployerLINC19 draws largest audiences ever in Oklahoma City and Tulsa

Phil Bruce named to Employers Counsel Network

NLRB independent contractors ruling not as simple as it seems

The Oklahoman |

NLRB sides with gig economy firms as worker classification landscape evolves

HR Daily Advisor |

McAfee & Taft elects eight new shareholders for 2019

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

Lawsuit highlights unique considerations in hiring individuals with disabilities

The Oklahoman |

‘Workplace Issues in the News’ seminar draws record numbers

Pilot program aims at resolving wage violations faster, cheaper

The Oklahoman |

Ball is in employers’ courts when it comes to March Madness

The Oklahoman |

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

Employers brace for March Madness

The Oklahoman |

Employers take a gamble with March Madness office pools

The Oklahoman |

Confidentiality agreement wise under new trade secrets act

The Oklahoman |

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

McAfee & Taft publishes video series from EmployerLINC2014 seminar

Annual seminar continues to draw more employers with timely practical guidance

Bracket Busted: Workplaces brace for ‘March Madness’

The Oklahoman |