Labor and Employment Law Overview: Oklahoma

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Oklahoma law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Employers may, within limits, conduct preemployment background checks, credit checks, drug and alcohol tests and physical exams. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Oklahoma, there are many requirements relating to the minimum wage, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Oklahoma laws regulate paydays, pay statements, wage deductions and health care continuation coverage. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Oklahoma law, employees are entitled to certain leaves, including jury duty leave, voting leave and military leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Oklahoma laws protect employees from smoking and asbestos in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • Oklahoma law regulates the payment of final wages to terminated employees. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is generally considered an employer-friendly state.

Select Oklahoma employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act

The Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act (OADA) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • National origin;
  • Disability;
  • Age (40 and over);
  • Sex (including pregnancy); and
  • Genetic information.

The OADA applies to employers that have one or more employees. Certain religious organizations are exempt.

Oklahoma employers are also prohibited from paying female employees at a rate less than the rate at which male employees are paid for comparable work on jobs which have comparable requirements relating to skill, effort, and responsibility, except where the payment is made based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production or a differential based on factors other than sex.

Retaliation

Oklahoma laws prohibit retaliation against:

  • An employee who opposes a discriminatory practice under the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act or has made a charge, filed a complaint or testified, assisted or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing;
  • An employee who files a wage complaint for violations of Oklahoma's equal pay law, which prohibits paying female employees lower wages than those paid to male employees for comparable work; or
  • An employee who invokes Oklahoma's Freedom of Conscience Act, which protects the right to refuse to participate in certain medical procedures based on religious or moral precepts.

Genetic Nondiscrimination in Employment Act

Oklahoma's Genetic Nondiscrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from seeking or using genetic tests or genetic information for purposes of distinguishing between or discriminating against employees or prospective employees or restricting any rights or benefits otherwise due or available, other than in connection with the determination of insurance coverage or benefits.

Smokers' Rights

An Oklahoma employer may not require an employee or applicant, as a condition of employment, to abstain from smoking or using tobacco products during nonworking hours, nor may terminate or otherwise disadvantage an employee because of off-hour smoking or usage. An employer may, however, encourage participation in a smoking cessation program.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Oklahoma can be found in Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Oklahoma, EEO - Discrimination: Oklahoma, EEO - Harassment: Oklahoma, EEO - Retaliation: Oklahoma, Employee Discipline: Oklahoma, Oklahoma Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Background Checks

Oklahoma employers are permitted to obtain certain types of state criminal records, including both conviction and nonconviction information. An employer may not ask questions, in interviews or on applications, about information that is sealed or is an expunged criminal record.

Criminal history checks are mandatory for employees of certain types of facilities, including:

  • Childcare providers;
  • Community service providers;
  • Medicaid service providers;
  • Health care facilities; and
  • Private prison contractors.

Credit Checks

Oklahoma employers may obtain consumer reports for any employment purpose, such as employment screening, but must first give applicants written notice that a consumer report will be used and that they may obtain a free copy.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Oklahoma employers may require drug and alcohol testing of job applicants but only after making a conditional offer of employment. Employers must bear the costs of the tests and follow procedures set by the state Board of Health.

Physical Examinations

Under Oklahoma law, a job applicant may be required to submit to a physical or medical examination as a condition of employment. The employer must pay all costs associated with the examination and provide the applicant with a free copy of the exam results upon request.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Oklahoma can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act

Employers covered by the Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act must pay nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage. The statute applies only to employers with at least 10 full-time employees and/or employers that gross more than $100,000 annually. It does not apply to employers subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Certain employees are exempt from state minimum wage requirements, such as farm workers, domestic servants, outside salespersons and transportation employees. The law also exempts minors under the age of 18 who have not graduated high school or a vocational training program.

The law allows an employer to credit tips, lodging, board or uniforms against an employee's minimum wage.

Breastfeeding Breaks

An employee who wishes to express breast milk for her infant child must be allowed a reasonable amount of break time, unless doing so would be an undue hardship causing significant difficulty or expense.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Oklahoma restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in underground mines or in establishments that sell or dispense low-point beer for on-premises consumption (unless owned by a parent).

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from occupations deemed hazardous to their health and well-being and, in general, from occupations involving:

  • Communications and public utilities;
  • Construction, including demolition and repair;
  • Manufacturing, mining or processing;
  • Operation of hoisting apparatus or power-driven machinery;
  • Operation of, or service as helpers on, motor vehicles;
  • Public messenger service;
  • Rail, highway, air, water, pipeline or other types of transportation; and
  • Storage and warehousing.

Additional prohibitions exist for minors under age 15.

Oklahoma generally prohibits minors under the age of 16 from working:

  • More than three hours on a school day;
  • More than eight hours on a nonschool day;
  • More than 18 hours in a week in which school is in session;
  • More than 40 hours in a week in which school is not in session; and
  • Before 7:00 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m. (after 9:00 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day or if there is no school the following day).

Certain exceptions to the hourly restrictions apply to agriculture and domestic service occupations and to employers not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A minor under the age of 16 years must be permitted a half-hour cumulative rest period for each five consecutive hours worked or a one-hour rest period for each eight consecutive hours worked.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Oklahoma can be found in Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Oklahoma, Employee Classification: Oklahoma, Hours Worked: Oklahoma, Child Labor: Oklahoma, Oklahoma Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Employee Classification: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Paydays

Employers must pay employees who are nonexempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at least twice a month, on paydays designated in advance. FLSA-exempt employees may be paid monthly.

Paydays may not occur more than 11 days after the end of each pay period. Employees must be paid no later than three days after each pay period ends.

Wage Deductions

Employers must sign a written agreement with employees to make legal deductions from employees' wages, unless deductions are made under:

  • Express statutory authority, such as state and federal tax and FICA withholdings; or
  • A prior, valid, final judgment by an employer against an employee.

Pay Statements

Every payment of wages must include a brief itemized statement listing all deductions.

Health Care Continuation

Oklahoma's health care continuation coverage law applies to employers with fewer than 20 employees. The law gives former employees the right to purchase continued health care coverage of two distinct types:

  • Full coverage for up to 63 days, if coverage is terminated for any reason other than the employee's gross misconduct or termination of the group policy; or
  • Limited coverage for up to three months for basic coverage, or up to six months for major medical coverage, if the employee was covered under the group health plan for at least six months and the employee was terminated or the group health plan was terminated.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Oklahoma can be found in Payment of Wages: Oklahoma, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Oklahoma and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Oklahoma. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Oklahoma has fewer laws relating to required leaves for employees than many other states, but does have mandated leave laws such as:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave; and
  • Military leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Oklahoma can be found in Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Oklahoma, USERRA: Oklahoma and Other Leaves: Oklahoma. Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoking

Oklahoma's Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act prohibits the use of lighted tobacco products in any form in indoor workplaces unless there is a designated smoking area. Signs must be posted at the entries and exits of places where smoking is prohibited.

Asbestos

The Oklahoma Asbestos Control Act (OACA) empowers the state Commissioner of Labor to develop and enforce rules for eliminating unsafe asbestos materials in the workplace. The commissioner may enter a private workplace at a reasonable time to make an inspection relating to the elimination of asbestos.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Oklahoma can be found in Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Terminated employees must be paid their final wages, less offsets, by the next regular payday. Employers must pay final wages through its regular pay channels or, if the employee requests, by certified mail postmarked on or before the next regular payday.

Oklahoma law defines wages to include vacation pay earned or due under an employment agreement or an established employer policy.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Oklahoma can be found in Payment of Wages: Oklahoma. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal.