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 and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must provide equal pay. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Oklahoma permits preemployment criminal and credit checks and drug testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Oklahoma, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Oklahoma has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including pay frequency, pay statements, wage deductions and health care continuation coverage. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Oklahoma law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including jury duty leave, voting leave, military leave and day of rest requirements. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Oklahoma prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. An employer may prohibit weapons in the workplace, but not in locked cars in company parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Oklahoma employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as the minimum wage.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

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

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

The OADA, which applies to employers that have one or more employees, also prohibits harassment and retaliation.

Equal Pay

Oklahoma employers are prohibited from paying female employees at a rate less than the rate at which male employees are paid for comparable work on jobs that 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 that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than sex.

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 the Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Oklahoma, EEO - Discrimination: Oklahoma, EEO - Harassment: Oklahoma, EEO - Retaliation: 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 and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Criminal Checks

Under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, employers are permitted to obtain certain types of state criminal records, including both conviction and nonconviction information, for any purpose, such as employment screening.

Credit Checks

Under the Credit Services Organization Act, employers may obtain consumer reports for any employment purpose, such as employment screening. The employer must first give applicants written notice that a consumer report will be used and that they may obtain a free copy.

Drug Testing

Under the Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, Oklahoma employers may require drug and alcohol testing of job applicants, but only after making a conditional job offer. The employer must bear the costs of the tests and follow procedures set by the state Board of Health. An employer may take an adverse employment action against applicants who refuse to take a test or who test positive. The law does not apply if the employer is conducting drug and alcohol tests under federal law.

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:

Minimum Wage

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 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.

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 working in 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).

A minor under the age of 16 years must be given a one-hour rest period for each eight consecutive hours worked. However, they may not work more than five consecutive hours without a 30-minute cumulative rest period.

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 Minimum Wage: 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 and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Oklahoma employers may pay employees in cash or by check, cashier's check, draft or otherwise, as long as the employees can redeem them or receive payment in cash without discount.

Pay Frequency

Employers must pay nonexempt employees at least twice a month, on paydays designated in advance. 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

An employer may not make deductions from employees' wages for the cost of required medical exams or employer-provided training. An employer must have employees' written permission to make deductions for legitimate reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Repayment of a company loan, advance or wage overpayment;
  • Payment for merchandise or uniforms;
  • Payment for benefits or insurance premiums;
  • Contributions to a deferred compensation plan or other investment plan; or
  • Compensation for breakages or cash shortage, if the employee was the only individual responsible.

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, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Oklahoma has few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employees. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Day of rest requirements.

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 time off and leave of absence practices in Oklahoma can be found in the Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Oklahoma, USERRA: Oklahoma, Other Leaves: Oklahoma, Hours Worked: Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and Hours Worked: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

Oklahoma prohibits the use or possession of lighted tobacco products in any form in indoor workplaces.

Safe Driving Practices

Oklahoma prohibits texting while driving.

Weapons in the Workplace

Oklahoma employers may limit, restrict or prohibit weapons, including firearms, in the workplace. However, Oklahoma law generally permits employees to transport and store a firearm in a locked motor vehicle in a company parking lot.

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 the Oklahoma Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Oklahoma, Employee Health: Oklahoma, Workplace Security: Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Oklahoma requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

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.

An employer may pay up to $3,000 of wages due to a deceased employee to the employee's designated beneficiary. If there is no designated beneficiary, wages may be paid to the employee's surviving spouse, or dependent children if there is no surviving spouse.

References

Oklahoma employers are generally immune from liability for giving job references to prospective employers if the employee requests or consents to giving the information. The employer is presumed to be acting in good faith, unless it can be shown that the information disclosed was false and the employer knew it was false or acted with malice or reckless disregard for the truth.

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, Employee Communications: Oklahoma and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Oklahoma? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.