The state of Oklahoma has prepared a document to be distributed to the agencies explaining the new due process system. It explains how this legislation created different pathways for workplace disputes. For example, written reprimands and punitive transfers are required to start with conflict mediation. Written reprimands cannot advance past the mediation hearing regardless of the outcome. If the punitive transfer cannot be resolved in mediation, it can be heard by an administrative law judge.
Adverse actions such as terminations, suspensions, or demotions allow the employee to choose between starting with conflict mediation or an administrative law judge hearing. If the employee chooses to begin mediation and they are not satisfied with the settlement that employee still has the right to have their case heard by an administrative law judge. All administrative law judge decisions are final.
Whistleblower protections stay in place for anyone employed by the state regardless of state employee status.
The due process timeline is the most significant change for state employees to note. State employees now have 5 business days from the event to file a complaint. Previously, it was 20 calendar days. While the 20 calendar days gave more time for employees to file a complaint, it also introduced issues, especially around the holidays. The 20 calendar days counted if it was the weekend, holiday, if you are on vacation, etc. 20 days was all you got. 5 business days guarantee that you have an opportunity to have your complaint heard. Just make sure you mentally note that when you or a coworker are considering filing a complaint that the paperwork gets submitted within the 5 business day deadline. You can always decide to withdraw a complaint, but you cannot roll the clock back on the 5 business days.
Lastly, the entire due process will be completed within 25 business days. This is a huge win for State employee rights. For decades lawyers at state agencies have drug out administrative law judge hearings for 6 months to a year. The sad truth is that when an employee is on suspension without pay or is terminated, they cannot wait 6 months to a year to resolve the complaint and return to work. They need to feed their families today. The state agency’s lawyers became experts at filing extensions and waiting out the employee. This change makes it impossible to continue to deny due process by dragging out the process.
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