Both employers and employees in Oklahoma are protected by state and federal laws. These laws outline the rights that employees may enjoy in the workplace, as well as provide the limitations to these rights for the benefit of employers.
What Is Part-Time vs. Full-Time in Oklahoma?
Full- and part-time employment are not clearly defined under federal or state law in Oklahoma. This means that an employer can decide which factors determine an employee full- or part-time, which affects an employee’s eligibility for benefits.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Oklahoma?
Federal wage and hour laws are set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25. While other states choose to set a higher minimum wage standard, Oklahoma adheres to the federal minimum wage. Additionally, in Oklahoma, certain employees under the age of 20 can be paid a sub-minimum wage for up to 90 days of training. Employees who receive tips can also be paid less than $7.25 hourly, as long as they earn enough in tips to bring the total hourly pay up to the full minimum wage.
The FLSA requires that employees receive an overtime rate of time and one half the regular rate of pay if employees work more than 40 hours in a week. Oklahoma does not have its own overtime law, so federal laws govern the payment of overtime in this state. Under federal law, there are exceptions to the requirement of overtime payment for employees who are considered “exempt”. Those employees who are exempt are ones who fit into executive, administrative, or professional role categories. Employees who are paid on a piece rate or salary basis are also governed by special rules for purposes of computing overtime.
Oklahoma does not require employers to offer group health insurance. However, as of January 1, 2015, the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began requiring employers to provide health coverage to full-time employees if the employers have at least 50 full time equivalent employees. Health coverage discrimination based on the gender, race, age, national origin, religion, or disability of an employee or employee’s dependent is unlawful.
Like most states, Oklahoma follows the employment "at-will" doctrine, which means an employment relationship can be terminated or altered by either party, without notice, for any reason except a discriminatory or retaliatory one. Under federal law, employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, age (40 and older), citizenship status, disability, or genetic information. Oklahoma law also protects against discrimination based on pregnancy or military service. Though federal law only applies to employers with at least 15 employees in most cases, Oklahoma employers must comply with these laws if that have at least one employee. To file a complaint for discrimination, the appropriate government agency is the Oklahoma Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, which enforces state laws prohibiting discrimination. Employees may also file a complaint for violation of federal discrimination laws with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Employers are required by federal law to provide unpaid leave benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA requires employers with at least 50 employees permit all eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for any of the following reasons:
- To care for a seriously ill immediate family member (child, parent, spouse);
- To recuperate from their own serious health conditions;
- To bond with a new child; or
- To handle urgent matters related to a family member’s military service.
Neither federal nor Oklahoma state law require paid time off (PTO), though many employers do choose to offer employees paid leave for vacation time, sick days, and/or holidays. Thus, in Oklahoma, offering PTO benefits is discretionary.
Where Can I Find a Local Employment Lawyer to Help Me?
Most employment laws providing methods of resolution have strict deadlines with which one must comply. Contact an Oklahoma employment lawyer immediately if you are concerned that your rights as an employee are being affected. The attorney can help you understand your rights and how to protect yourself.