Stricter overtime, worker classification laws to come

published in The Oklahoman | March 31, 2016

Speaking at one of her first public appearances since being appointed to lead the Oklahoma Department of Labor in November 2015, Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston spoke before a crowd of nearly 700 attendees at EmployerLINC2016, McAfee & Taft’s annual labor, employment and employee benefits seminar, in Oklahoma City on March 30, 2016.

Business writer Paula Burkes from The Oklahoman covered the event and the commissioner’s presentation, which included a review of her career as a public servant and an overview of the Oklahoma Department of Labor and its priorities. She specifically urged employers to take advantage of a free program provided by the ODOL in which workplace safety experts conduct confidential walk-throughs of businesses to assess safety risks and concerns. The goal is to give employers a head’s up on what federal officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration might discover in an actual investigation.

The article also highlighted a number of timely employment law topics discussed at the seminar, including forthcoming changes to federal overtime rules regarding professional exemptions, the National Labor Relation Board’s recent protection of employee social media posts – even outrageous and disparaging comments – as “concerted activity,” the implementation of protective agreements designed to discourage-exposure employment litigation, the use of electronic signatures, and the federal government’s crackdown on the misclassification of employees as contractors.