Question Submitted By Kannady, 121719 OKAG, 2019 OK AG 10

Docket Nº:2019 OK AG 10
Party Name:Question Submitted by: The Honorable Chris Kannady, State Representative, District 91
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA ANDY N. FERGUSON STAFF ATTORNEY
Case Date:December 17, 2019
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2019 OK AG 10

Question Submitted by: The Honorable Chris Kannady, State Representative, District 91

No. 2019 OK AG 10

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

December 17, 2019

MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

ANDY N. FERGUSON STAFF ATTORNEY

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following question:

In what venue must a workers' compensation retaliation claim be filed or maintained if the claim stems from an injury that occurred on or after February 1, 2014 but before May 28, 2019?

I.

BACKGROUND

¶1 Generally, Oklahoma is an employment-at-will state, meaning that unless prohibited elsewhere in law or policy, it is permissible to terminate an employee for any reason or no reason. See Burk v. K-Mart Corp., 1989 OK 22, ¶¶ 6-7, 770 P.2d 24, 26. It was not until the 1976 passage of the Retaliatory Discharge Act that employees received protection in district court against retaliation associated with workers' compensation claims. See 1976 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 217 (codified at Title 85, Section 5, repealed by 2011 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 318, § 87); see also Young v. Station 27,

Inc., 2017 OK 68, ¶ 13, 404 P.3d 829, 835-36; Glasco v. State ex rel. Okla. Dep't of Corr., 2008 OK 65, ¶ 10, 188 P.3d 177, 182 . This allowed an employee to seek remedies against an employer who takes an adverse action against the employee because the employee, for example, retained a lawyer for, caused to be initiated, or testifies in a workers' compensation claim or proceeding.

¶2 In 2011, the Legislature reformed the workers' compensation laws by adopting the Workers' Compensation Code, codified in Title 85 of the Oklahoma Statutes. See 2011 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 318 ; see also Young, 2017 OK 37, ¶ 16, 404 P.3d at 836-37. Under that code, an aggrieved employee was authorized to bring an action in district court to recover "reasonable damages, actual and punitive if applicable, suffered by the employee... [and] to be reinstated to his or her former position." 85 O.S.2011, § 341 (repealed by 2013 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 208, § 171).

¶3 Then, in 2013, the Legislature reformed the workers' compensation laws again by enacting the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (the "AWCA"), codified in Title 85A. See 2013 Okla. Sess. Laws ch. 208. Effective February 1, 2014, the AWCA replaced the retaliation...

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