Employment-at-will means that an employer and employee can terminate their relationship at any time for no reason, but it does not mean an employer can violate laws or discriminate against employees.
Like many other states, Oklahoma is an employment-all-will state. This means that in most situations, either the employee or the employer can terminate the relationship at any given time and for any given reason. This is not an absolute right, however, which means there are laws and contracts that can limit the at-will status. These include federal and state laws, individual employment contracts, or collective bargaining agreements.
If you feel you have been terminated unfairly, it is important to speak with a Ponca City, Oklahoma employment law attorney right away. Just because Oklahoma is an employment-at-will state, that does not mean your employer has the right to violate an employment contract or discriminate against you.
At Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker, our legal team has over 65 years of combined experience assisting clients throughout Oklahoma. We believe in vigorously defending employees’ rights. Employers are required to know the applicable federal and state employment laws and therefore should be held accountable if they violate any of them.
Exceptions to Employment-at-Will in Oklahoma
Employment-at-will is not an absolute right. If you are under an employment contract and your employer decides to breach that contract, you have the legal right to pursue damages. However, the same can be said for your employer. If you breach your contract, your employer may have a valid breach of contract claim, too. Are you part of a collective bargaining agreement, like a union contract? The same exception may apply here, as well. If you are not bound by any employment contracts, you are free to quit if you so choose.
Employers are prohibited from terminating employees simply because they are a member of a certain class, race, religion, disability, etc. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disability Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act all help protect employees from wrongful termination. Our Oklahoma wrongful termination attorneys can advise you whether or not you have a claim under any of these laws.
There are also state laws that prohibit employers from terminating workers. Employees cannot be terminated for engaging in activities like:
- Jury Duty: An employer cannot discipline or terminate you for missing time off work for jury duty. You have an obligation to give your employer reasonable notice once you receive the summons.
- Making a Complaint about Health and Safety: Federal and state law both prohibit your employer from firing you or retaliating against you for making a complaint about occupational health and safety conditions in the workplace.
- Smoking: If you smoke outside of work, you cannot be discharged or discriminated against.
- Military Service: If you are in the military, you cannot be discharged or disciplined simply for that. If you are deployed, they must reemploy you in your prior job or one of similar status, pay, and seniority.
Contact an Oklahoma Wrongful Termination Attorney
If you want to learn more on how employment-at-will affects you, let our knowledgeable legal team answer all your questions. Contact Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker today to schedule an initial consultation.