Can Oklahoma employees be discriminated against for unionizing?
We have previously discussed the 'at-will' employment doctrine and how this may affect employees in Oklahoma. One group that might be exempt from the at-will rules are those working unionized jobs. Unions and union jobs provide quite a few benefits to Oklahoma workers. If you are in a workplace that has a union, there is a possibility that the union has a collective bargaining agreement with your employer. Still, what does this mean for employee rights and employment claims in Oklahoma?
According to an Oklahoma Bar Association's employee rights publication, it may mean that you will be treated as if you have an employment contract with your employer, even if you personally did not negotiate for and sign one. Such collective bargaining agreements can contain stipulations regarding for what causes an employee can be fired, as well as sections requiring certain hours, levels of pay and working conditions.
The law provides that covered employees cannot be discriminated against for joining, or attempting to form, a union. Further, in Oklahoma, one's right to refuse to join a union is also protected. Interestingly, the law also protects employees who take steps to get rid of a union. Employee rights with regard to unions also include the right to assist labor organizations.
Many employers do not wish their employees to organize, as it tends to drive up costs for employers, who may be required under a collective bargaining agreement to provide certain workplace conditions and levels of pay that they otherwise wouldn't. Some will take steps to actively discourage their workers from taking any steps that could lead to unionization. It is important that Oklahoma employees understand their rights and feel that they can defend them if necessary. Anyone who believes he or she has faced illegal workplace discrimination, for any reason, may want to consider contacting an experienced employment law attorney.
Source: Oklahoma Bar Association, "Consumer legal information," accessed Aug. 3, 2015