What state agency handles workplace discrimination in Oklahoma?

This blog has dealt previously with the filing of complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While that entity certainly plays a role in enforcing anti-discrimination laws, there are also state government resources in Oklahoma that are available. In Oklahoma, discrimination investigation and enforcement powers are given to a section of the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.

The state agency that handles complaints regarding anti-discrimination laws is the Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE). This agency is where someone who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in the workplace might file a complaint and have it investigated and, hopefully, resolved. For employment discrimination, the complaint must be filed with OCRE within 180 days of the last incident of alleged discrimination. OCRE will assign an investigator and will determine whether reasonable cause has been shown to believe that discrimination occurred.

Each case is different, and the amount of time this process will take depends upon the complexity and number of issues involved, as well as the extent of the parties' cooperation. If OCRE does find reasonable cause exists, attempts will be made to settle the complaint. If this does not work, the complaint may be sent to the federal EEOC, a notice of right to sue may be issued, or OCRE may institute a suit on behalf of the complainant.

It is important to understand that OCRE represents the State of Oklahoma and its interests, and is not an attorney for the person filing the discrimination complaint. Further, the filing of a complaint with OCRE does not constitute a lawsuit. People who believe they have been illegally discriminated against in the workplace may want an independent party to protect their employee rights. If so, those individuals may wish to consider contacting an experienced Oklahoma employment lawyer.

Source: Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General, "Office of Civil Rights Enforcement," accessed August 11, 2015