Can an Oklahoma employer require direct deposit for wages?

The proliferation of technology seems to be constantly accelerating. Only 20 years ago, the nascent internet was almost exclusively the refuge of academic institutions and technology enthusiasts. Now, practically every segment of the population has some sort of online presence, even if it's only to receive and send email. Similarly, in bygone years, it was the norm that employees would receive their wages either in cash or by a check drawn on their employers' bank account. Presently, this process is becoming less common, with direct electronic transfer of funds becoming the new standard. This is often easier for both parties, as it is more efficient for the employee, and more cost-effective for the employer. However, not everyone has a bank account in which funds can be directly deposited. So, one question arises: can an employer mandate direct deposit for its employees' wages?

Several years ago, the Oklahoma Attorney General issued an opinion on how the state would interpret the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act. This national law overrides state laws and regulations regarding electronic funds transfers if there are conflicts between them. Basically, the state attorney general read the EFTA as allowing employers to require wages be paid by direct deposit, but not requiring that a certain financial institution be used.

If an employer does mandate a specific bank, it must also offer the option of payment in the form of cash or check. Further, wage statements or "pay stubs" can be issued electronically, but only on the condition that no burden is placed on the employee to access them. An example given in the opinion of a burden to an employee is that an employer cannot post them on a website that requires an employee to "log in" to access.

So, the answer to the question of whether an employer can require direct deposit is a qualified "yes." Employees remain free to choose what financial institution they wish to use to bank their hard-earned wages. If you believe that your employer has violated the law with regard to your wages or hours, you may wish to consider getting more information about your legal rights.

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