For what reasons must an Oklahoma employer allow time off?

Oklahoma is what is commonly called an at will state when it comes to employment law. This means that, as a general matter, employers can terminate, or fire, an employee at any time for any or no reason. There are however, some limitations of this power that management has, which are found in both state and federal law. For example, an employee who has a contract cannot be fired except for those reasons that are stated in the employment contract. Further, an employer cannot fire someone for discriminatory reasons based on a protected class of people, or in retaliation for the employee pursuing his or her own, or helping another pursue, legal rights. There are also a small category of reasons for which an Oklahoma employer must allow employees leave from work, and the employer cannot discharge the employee for taking advantage of this leave.

First, employees who have been working a year for a company with more than 50 employees must be given 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or for serious illness of themselves or another family member for whom they must provide care. Benefits must be maintained during this period, and the employee must be given the same or an equivalent position when he or she returns.

Second, employers must allow unpaid leave to an employee who is summoned for jury duty. The employee also cannot force the employee to use sick days or vacation time for this leave (although an employee may use those days if he or she wishes to be paid).

Third, any employee who is in the military must be granted leave if called for service. This is true for active duty as well as reserve military members. The employer must allow up to five years of leave time, and return the employee to his or her same position with regard to seniority and benefits.

Finally, in Oklahoma, employers must allow employees up to two hours on election days to vote, if such has been requested prior to election day. There is an exception to this requirement if the employee's shift begins or ends three hours before or after the opening or closing of polls. If the employee shows proof of actually having voted, he or she must be paid for the time.

If an employer terminates an employee for exercising these rights to leave from work, a wrongful termination suit may result. If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated you may wish to consult an employment law attorney.