Changes to workers’ compensation law expected to generate retaliation claims

published in Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report | February 21, 2014

An article discussing changes to Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation law appeared in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report. Effective February 1, 2014, the scope of potential retaliation claims against employers has been expanded. Under Title 85A-7 of Oklahoma workers’ compensation statutes, employees can now accuse an employer of other forms of workers’ compensation retaliation short of discharge, including retaliatory demotions, assignments, raises and promotions.

McAfee & Taft labor and employment attorney Charlie Plumb was interviewed for the article. He told Burke that “employees in the state of Oklahoma do not have to be fired to sue an employer for discrimination or retaliation.”

“This enlarges the risk for employers of claims of workers’ compensation retaliation,” Plumb said.

This law follows the 2013 System Overhaul Bill that was signed into law on May 6, 2013, citing the need to reduce business costs and improve efficiency. The law shifts the state from a court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative one, while also allowing employers to voluntarily opt out of the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act by creating their own defined benefits plan.

“This is part and parcel of that overhaul,” Plumb said.