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Oklahoma Supreme Court Quashes Noneconomic Damages Cap for Personal Injury Claims

A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court recently invalidated the $350,000 noneconomic damages cap on pain and suffering in personal injury lawsuits. In Beason v. I.E. Miller Services, Inc., the court held that the statutory damages cap was unconstitutional because it differentiated plaintiffs who sue to recover for bodily injury from those whose beneficiaries may sue for wrongful death caused by substantially similar mechanisms of injury. As a result, Oklahoma employers may face bigger payouts in the event of serious workplace injuries to individuals other than their own employees.

Oklahoma’s Unity Bill Allows Employers to Prohibit Medical Marijuana Use by Employees in Safety-Sensitive Positions

Oklahoma employers received a much-needed boost from the recent passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, more commonly called the “Unity Bill.” This legislation comes after much upheaval about the Oklahoma electorate’s passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA)—State Question 788—in the summer of 2018.

In Oklahoma, Medical use of Marijuana is OK, But Employers Now Have Enhanced Rights to Act

On March 12, 2019, Oklahoma Governor Stitt signed into law the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Use and Protection Act. The Act, better known as the medical marijuana “Unity Bill,” amends the state’s medical marijuana law to create a system for implementing dispensary licenses and to amend and clarify who must be accommodated in the employment context if they are medical marijuana users.

Oklahoma’s New Medical Marijuana Law and Your Workplace

Oklahomans voted 57 percent in favor of State Question 788, resulting in the passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) on June 26, 2018. Many experts consider the new law to be one of the broadest medical marijuana laws in the United States. (Thirty states and the District of Columbia have now passed laws providing for the decriminalization of medical marijuana.) The law went into effect on July 26, 2018.

Medical Marijuana Now Legal in Oklahoma

Effective July 26, medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma. Under the voter-approved law, employers may not discriminate against any registered medical marijuana user in hiring, termination or any other terms or conditions of employment.

Oklahoma Voters Pass Broad Medical Marijuana Law with Workplace Anti-Discrimination Provisions

Oklahoma became the 30th state to pass a medical marijuana law. Voters approved the measure on June 26, 2018.

Oklahoma Case Serves as Reminder that Pregnancy Alone, Without More, Is Not an ADA Disability

A former employee’s claim that she was pregnant and subject to lifting restrictions failed to allege a valid claim under the Americas with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. LaCount v. South Lewis SH OPCO, LLC, Case No. 16-CV-0545-CVE-TLW (N.D. Okla. May 5, 2017).

Workers' Compensation Opt-Out Law Struck Down by Oklahoma Supreme Court

In Vasquez v. Dillard's, Inc., the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a law that allows employers to opt out of the state workers' compensation system. The court held that the state Employee Injury Benefit Act (Opt Out Act) is unconstitutional because it allows for certain groups of employees to be treated differently when seeking compensation for work-related injuries. These opt-out plans have been backed by Walmart, Lowe's and Sysco Food Services as being instrumental in reducing costs, and continue to be implemented in Texas.

Oklahoma Bans Texting While Driving

Oklahoma has become the 46th state to ban texting while driving. An Oklahoma employer that uses commercial drivers or that requires employees to drive as part of their work assignments (e.g., traveling sales professionals) will need to update its driving policies to comply with this new law.

10th Circuit Holds That Guns In Company Parking Lot Are OK . . . In OK.

Where a state law stands as an obstacle to the execution of the clear objectives of a federal law, or where it is impossible for a party to comply with both state and federal requirements, that state law may be “pre-empted” by the federal statute. In a case that could have far-reaching implications for employers, a federal appellate court has held that two Oklahoma laws holding employers criminally liable for prohibiting employees from storing firearms in locked vehicles on company property are not preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (the OSH Act).
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