Someone packing up their desk in a box.

When you’re handed a pink slip in Oklahoma, the mix of emotions can be overwhelming—confusion, anger, and a profound sense of injustice, especially if you suspect the termination wasn’t fair. But what transforms this personal turmoil into a strong legal challenge? A wrongful termination case in Oklahoma is supported by clear evidence of illegal reasons for dismissal, such as discrimination against protected classes like race, religion, or age, or retaliation for whistle-blowing or resisting unlawful practices. It’s about showing that you were fired for reasons that go against the laws that are there to protect workers.

Imagine being fired for taking a stand against unsafe working conditions, or simply because of who you are—it’s not just unfair, it’s illegal. This includes the employee being let go for filing a harassment complaint to being wrongfully terminated for refusing to participate in fraudulent activities.

If any of this resonates with you, reach out to OKC Injury Lawyers at 405-906-4051. Our team is well-versed in Oklahoma’s employment laws and at turning the tides in your favor. We’re here to listen, to understand, and to fight for the compensation and justice you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation and let’s take the first step towards righting the wrongs of your wrongful termination.

A Strong Wrongful Termination Case in Oklahoma

A solid wrongful termination case is built on three fundamental components. These include:

  1. The violation of wrongful termination laws, both state and federal,
  2. The breach of employment agreements,
  3. The presence of discrimination or retaliation claims.

Each component contributes significantly to the formation of a robust case, enabling a formidable defense against unfair dismissal and paving the way to justice.

Violation of State and Federal Employment Laws

A combination of state and federal laws protects Oklahoma workers against discrimination and wrongful termination in an at-will employment state. An at-will employment state is one where both the employer and employee maintain the relationship at their discretion. This means that in Oklahoma, employers have the right to terminate employees at any time and for any reason—or no reason at all—without incurring legal liability.

Similarly, employees have the right to leave their jobs at any time and for any reason without facing legal consequences or having to give advance notice. However, there are important exceptions to this at-will rule that protect employees from wrongful termination, such as being fired for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation for engaging in certain protected activities, or in violation of public policy or an employment contract.

Protected classes in Oklahoma refer to specific groups of people who are legally shielded from discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace. These classes are recognized under federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Being part of a protected class means that an individual cannot be legally fired, denied employment, harassed, or discriminated against in job conditions based on these specific characteristics:

  • Race
  • Skin color
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic information
  • Nation of origin
  • Other characteristics covered under federal law

Wrongful termination can specifically result from discrimination based on the items in this list.

Breach of Employment Agreements

Employment contracts in Oklahoma are legally binding agreements that can alter the standard at-will employment provisions. If an employer breaches these contract terms related to employment termination, they may face legal penalties. These contracts may stipulate specific procedures for how an employer must notify an employee of termination.

Consequently, terminations that do not comply with the conditions specified in the employment contract are deemed illegal in Oklahoma.

Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Discrimination and retaliation claims are important for a strong wrongful termination case. Retaliation claims can arise when an employer terminates an employee for engaging in legally protected activities, such as filing a legal complaint against the employer or acting as a whistleblower.

Proof of wrongful termination arising from disparate treatment, wherein employees are treated differently based on their protected status, can suggest illicit actions by the employer.

Identifying Illegal Reasons for Termination

Federal employment laws and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act protect workers from termination based on protected categories such as race, age, or disability. Illegal reasons for firing an employee can also include the violation of an employment agreement or retaliation for whistleblowing activity, as well as complaints about discrimination or sexual harassment.

Certain reasons outlined in employment contracts, like not achieving predetermined work objectives, may legally supersede at-will employment clauses in the event of employment termination in Oklahoma.

Protected Classes and Discriminatory Reasons

Termination based on protected classes is considered wrongful, and wrongful termination claims can be based on dismissals due to discrimination against these protected categories.

Under specific circumstances, employers in Oklahoma may be required to prove that job criteria, which could inadvertently impact women or minorities, are indispensable to the job and thus not discriminatory.

Retaliation Against Lawful Employee Actions

Retaliation against employees for participating in legally protected activities is considered wrongful termination in Oklahoma. These protected activities can include reporting unlawful or harmful activities within their organizations, as well as those who seek lawful compensation such as overtime pay. Example of Retaliation Against Lawful Employee Actions

To illustrate retaliation in the workplace, consider the case of Jane, an employee at a Tulsa-based marketing firm. Jane noticed discrepancies in the company’s financial reports and suspected embezzlement. Upholding her duty, she reported her concerns to the company’s HR department and later to the appropriate authorities when the internal investigation was unresponsive.

Despite her actions being legally protected, Jane’s supervisors began to treat her differently. They excluded her from meetings, reduced her responsibilities, and eventually terminated her employment, citing downsizing. However, the timing and change in behavior suggested that Jane’s termination was a direct result of her whistleblowing—a clear case of illegal retaliation. Jane’s wrongful termination case could thus be strengthened by this evidence of retaliation following her lawful report of misconduct within the company. A sudden shift in a manager’s attitude towards an employee following a legally protected action by the latter could serve as proof of wrongful termination.

Public Policy Violations

Public policy violations form another category of illegal reasons for termination. In Oklahoma, the law includes a public policy exception that prohibits employer termination of employees for abiding by public policy mandates, such as jury duty participation or refusing to perform illegal activities.

Oklahoma employees have the legal protection to serve on a jury, which employers cannot penalize or terminate them for without facing legal repercussions. This is a critical aspect of civic duty and the legal system’s functioning, ensuring that citizens can participate in the judicial process without fear of losing their livelihood.

Oklahoma law also protects employees from being terminated for lawful off-duty conduct, such as using tobacco during non-working hours.

Contradictions by employers trying to justify an unlawful dismissal retroactively across different platforms may suggest violations of public policy.

Evidence Collection and Preservation Strategies

Building a strong case requires compelling evidence. The process of accumulating this evidence entails three steps:

  1. Compiling pertinent documents,
  2. Obtaining witness testimonies,
  3. Keeping personal records.

Gathering Documentation

Important documentation for building a strong wrongful termination case includes:

  • Performance evaluations
  • Disciplinary records
  • Emails
  • Internal complaints
  • Other written communications with the employer, such as emails, can provide a trail of proof regarding the experiences and interactions leading up to the termination
  • Obtaining a copy of the personnel file can be beneficial, as it may include reports and reviews that serve as evidence in disputes over wrongful termination.

Such documentation, coupled with confirmation of adherence to discipline procedures, proves invaluable in supporting wrongful termination cases.

Securing Witness Testimonies

Witness testimonies from colleagues or supervisors can provide firsthand accounts that can substantiate your claim. These testimonies can effectively corroborate details regarding your work performance and the specific incidents or behaviors leading to termination.

Witness statements are crucial in affirming claims of discrimination or retaliation, and serve as corroborative evidence when validating such allegations in court. The collection of accurate and relevant witness testimonies is crucial and can significantly bolster the credibility of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Maintaining Personal Records

Keeping detailed personal notes or journals documenting specific incidents and conversations is critical, as they can significantly strengthen a wrongful termination claim. These personal records should include dates and clear descriptions of relevant incidents and interactions with the employer to provide comprehensive and supporting evidence.

Post-termination, drafting a letter detailing the perceived reasons for dismissal aids in preserving a personal record that could be used if a wrongful termination claim is lodged. Mailing this letter via certified mail creates a verifiable record of the employee’s perspective on the termination, which can prove useful during legal proceedings.

Legal Remedies and Compensation in Wrongful Termination Cases

In wrongful termination cases, the remedies and compensation could encompass monetary compensation for lost wages and benefits, reinstatement, and punitive damages.

Financial Compensation for Lost Wages and Benefits

Financial compensation in wrongful termination cases can include back pay, lost benefits, and non-economic damages for pain and suffering. In some instances, a workers’ compensation claim may also be relevant, particularly when an employee’s termination is linked to a work-related injury or illness. For example, if an employee is fired after filing for workers’ compensation due to an injury sustained on the job, this could be seen as a form of retaliation, which is illegal. Employers cannot legally terminate an employee for exercising their right to seek workers’ compensation, and such a scenario could strengthen a wrongful termination case by adding an element of retaliation.

Back pay may include additional compensation as liquidated damages, potentially adjusted for the employee’s interim earnings, or possible earnings that could have been reasonably obtained. Separated employees also have the potential to claim lost benefits, which are often a critical component of the total financial package.

Apart from financial damages, lawsuits for wrongful termination in Oklahoma may also pursue non-economic damages to compensate for pain and suffering, as outlined by Oklahoma wrongful termination laws.

Reinstatement and Future Earnings

In some cases, employers may be compelled to re-hire a worker if they have been found to have wrongfully terminated the individual. In cases of wrongful termination, employees in Oklahoma may have a right to be reinstated to their former job positions. If an employer in Oklahoma has been found guilty of illegal termination, they could be subjected to a court injunction that mandates the hiring or rehiring of the employee.

Punitive Damages and Settlement Options

For cases of severe wrongful termination in Oklahoma, the courts might impose punitive damages on the employer. Negotiating a settlement often leads to increased compensation, and opportunities to settle may arise before the case proceeds to trial. Settlements in wrongful termination cases in Tulsa may be accepted without going to trial, providing a portion of the sought damages.

Accepting a settlement entails relinquishing the right to initiate any future lawsuits on the same grounds against the employer. It is crucial to not sign anything until you’ve had a chance to talk to your lawyer at OKC Injury Lawyers to ensure you’re getting the fair deal you deserve.

Navigating the Legal Process With Professional Help

Professional help from OKC Injury Lawyers is crucial when dealing with wrongful termination cases. A lawyer with specific experience in this field can guide you through the process, improving your chances for a successful outcome with their experience in Oklahoma employment law.

Filing a Claim with Government Agencies

Wrongful termination claims in Oklahoma can be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Oklahoma Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE). The EEOC is responsible for investigating allegations of wrongful termination to determine if there were any unlawful practices. When complaining with the OCRE or EEOC, it is crucial to provide your personal information, details about your employer, a thorough description of the incident, and the specific dates on which the wrongful termination occurred. It’s important to note that the filing deadline with the OCRE is within 180 days of the termination event. However, for the EEOC, you have up to 300 days to submit your claim. If you’re uncertain about the process or need guidance, OKC Injury Lawyers is well-versed in navigating these procedures and can help ensure that your complaint is filed accurately and on time.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Recognized as alternatives to a trial, mediation, and arbitration can potentially provide a more efficient resolution to wrongful termination disputes. These processes, which OKC Injury Lawyers can facilitate, can allow for a quicker resolution and less expense than going to court, often providing a more amicable environment for both parties to reach an agreement.

Taking Your Case to Trial

If mediation or arbitration doesn’t lead to a satisfactory outcome, taking your case to trial may be the next step. OKC Injury Lawyers can provide critical guidance through the processes of commencing a lawsuit and the trial procedures. With us, you will be well-prepared to present your case, whether it involves direct interactions with your employer or detailed legal arguments before a judge or jury.

The outcome of a wrongful termination trial in Oklahoma is decided by either a judge or a jury after careful consideration of the evidence and arguments presented, and with the support of OKC Injury Lawyers, you can feel confident that your case is being handled with the utmost professionalism and dedication to achieving a just resolution.

How OKC Injury Lawyers Can Assist With Your Case

We, at OKC Injury Lawyers, comprehend the significant impact of wrongful termination on a person’s life. That’s why we are dedicated to assisting our clients in their fight for justice. We understand that losing your job can be a destabilizing and distressing experience, which not only affects your financial stability but also your personal well-being and future employment opportunities. Our team is committed to providing personalized support and vigorous representation to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Our Contingency-Fee Approach

We, at OKC Injury Lawyers, strictly adhere to a contingency-fee approach. This means that there are no attorney fees unless we obtain compensation in your case. This approach eliminates the need for clients to pay upfront costs, enabling those without immediate funds to seek justice.

With our contingency fee arrangement, you have the opportunity to commence legal actions without financial risk if compensation is not recovered. We support our clients from their initial case assessment, offering free consultations before moving forward on a contingency-fee-basis.

Client-Centered Advocacy

Our dedication to advocating for our clients distinguishes us. We provide personalized advice, compelling arguments, and clear legal guidance throughout your wrongful termination case. Our approach is reflected in the compelling arguments we build, the clarity of legal questions we answer, and the guidance we offer throughout the legal process.

Regular Case Updates and Communication

At OKC Injury Lawyers, we recognize the crucial role regular communication plays in establishing a trustworthy attorney-client relationship. We prioritize confidentiality, honesty, and regular communication with our clients throughout the legal process. Our attorneys keep clients updated on settlement offers and assist with decision-making throughout the lawsuit.

All client phone calls will be returned within 48 hours to maintain consistent communication. Our regular case updates and responsive communication policy reflect our commitment to client-centered advocacy.

Ready to Challenge Your Wrongful Termination?

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated, don’t let your rights be trampled. Take a stand with OKC Injury Lawyers by your side. Our experienced team understands the intricacies of Oklahoma’s employment laws and is ready to advocate for you. We’re committed to fighting for the justice and compensation you deserve. Call us now at 405-906-4051 for a free consultation. Together, we can review the details of your case, explore your options, and chart a path toward vindication. Don’t wait – your fight for fairness starts today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrongful termination in Oklahoma can occur if an employee is fired for reasons related to race, color, sex, pregnancy, age (40 and over), national origin, religion, genetic information, or mental or physical disability.

In Oklahoma, protected classes include race, color, sex, pregnancy, age over 40, national origin, religion, genetic information, and disability.

Illegal reasons for termination include violations of employment agreements, retaliation for whistleblowing, discrimination or sexual harassment complaints, and public policy violations. These are all protected by law and can result in legal action if violated.

OKC Injury Lawyers can assist with your wrongful termination case by providing a contingency-fee approach, client-centered advocacy, and regular case updates and communication. These services can help you navigate the legal process effectively.

Yes, even in an at-will employment state like Oklahoma, you can still file a wrongful termination claim if you were fired without cause under certain circumstances. While employers in at-will states can generally terminate employees without cause, they cannot do so for illegal reasons. These include firing someone for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation for reporting misconduct or illegal activities, or in violation of public policy mandates. If you believe your termination was for an unlawful reason, it would be advisable to consult with a wrongful termination lawyer to explore your legal options.