Are there exceptions to workplace discrimination law in Oklahoma?

This blog has previously noted the discriminatory employment practices that are forbidden by federal and Oklahoma law. We have also discussed some of the methods by which employees can protect their rights under those laws. We have also touched on the fact that some exceptions exist, such as for parents employing their children. Beyond these topics, it may be important to note that Oklahoma also provides for some specific exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

Oklahoma Statutes, Section 25-1308, provides that an exception to the general prohibition on discrimination in hiring and career advancement decisions. It is generally illegal to discriminate in such activities on the basis of race, religion, national origin, disability, gender or genetic characteristics. However, such activity will not be considered discriminatory if it is shown to be related to a "bona fide" requirement of the occupation, and such is reasonably necessary for the business' operation.

Further, the state will not consider it a discriminatory action for an institution of education that is owned or operated by a religion or a religious corporation to discriminate in employment on the basis of religion. The same exception applies to schools in which the curriculum is calculated to propagate a specific religion.

As you may notice, especially in the case of the first exception, deciding whether an employer qualifies for an exception to general anti-discrimination laws may be subjective. Whether an employment practice is a bona fide occupational requirement and whether it is reasonably necessary for the operation of a business is going to rely on case law and various different courts' interpretations. If you have questions as to whether your business fits one of these exceptions, or you think you have been discriminated against, you may want to consider consulting an experienced Oklahoma employment lawyer.