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Neither Oklahoma nor Federal law provides a legal right for all unjust or unfair employer treatment. Rights to sue only exist in cases of unlawful treatment. Under the employment at-will doctrine, an employer may terminate an employee at any time, with or without notice, with or without cause, and for any or no reason – as long as the reason is not deemed unlawful by state or federal law. To have a valid wrongful termination claim, an employer’s conduct must either breach a written or oral agreement, or violate a federal or state law.
Federal and Oklahoma anti-discrimination law affords employees constitutional rights of protection from several types of discrimination including:
In order to have a valid discrimination claim, an employer generally must take some tangible adverse employment action against an employee. This may include a termination, layoff, demotion, reduction in compensation or benefits, reassignment to lesser duties, or a failure to promote. Generally, a negative performance review or unreceptive treatment, without more, is insufficient. Moreover, an employer’s adverse employment action must be motivated by an employee’s protected class status (e.g. sex, age, race, national origin, etc).
Though not a requirement, a strong wrongful termination discrimination case generally includes evidence that the employer did not discharge an employee who is not a member of the plaintiff’s protected class under substantially similar circumstances, derogatory comments directed at the discharged employee’s protected class status, and the employer replacing the discharged employee with someone outside the discharged employee’s protected class.
Those who think they have been the victim of unlawful discrimination should seek the advise of a qualified employment lawyer immediately. Employment discrimination commonly involves mandatory and time-sensitive reporting which, if done improperly, can limit or eliminate the rights of the person who has been subjected to the employment discrimination or hostile work environment.