Oklahomans have likely heard the term "whistleblower" in a few different contexts. There are those that expose government corruption or incompetence, and those that report criminal activity of the wealthy and powerful. In this blog, we are going to talk about whistleblowers in the context of employment and the problem of wrongful termination.
There are two kinds of protections in Oklahoma for people who "blow the whistle" on their employers. There are protections that come from court cases which tend to find that a worker cannot be retaliated against when doing so would be against public policy, and then there are protections that the legislature has written directly into the statutes. Retaliation that is against public policy according to the courts includes termination or discrimination based on an employee's refusing to violate safety or health regulations, reporting an employer's illegal or unsafe conduct, giving testimony to a government committee, or filing a worker's compensation claim or a suit against a customer for a work injury.
Statutory protections tend to deal with retaliation due to an employee reporting violations of certain labor laws. These would include minimum wage and workplace discrimination complaints, violations of child labor laws, or the regulations with regard to factory inspections, and reporting, in good faith, suspicions of child abuse or neglect. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against employees who testify as witnesses in investigations or court proceedings regarding the above claims.
So what recourse do you have if you think you have been the victim of wrongful termination because you are a whistleblower? Well, reporting such to the state department of labor may result in criminal charges being filed against the employer, depending upon the alleged violation. You might also have a cause of action to sue the employer in civil court if a wrongful discharge took place. If you believe this has happened to you, you may wish to consider contacting an Oklahoma employment law professional.
Source: workplacefairness.org, "Filing a Whistleblower or Retaliation Claim - Oklahoma," accessed, Jan. 20, 2015